Sunfire, for those who weren't young females in the 80s, was a series of historical romances aimed at teenagers. Each book took place in a different period of American history, and I've got to say that the authors did a really good job in covering and researching them. There were the usuals--Revolutionary War, Gold Rush, Salem Witch Trials--but also some lesser known phases like the settlement of Alaska and the Johnstown flood of 1889.
But honestly, these girls had much more to contend with than history-changing events. They had powerful choices to make. Choices of the heart. In case you can't tell in the pic above, each heroine is flanked by two men. This was the romantic plot of every single book. She had to choose between two (sometimes three) love interests, who were usually (and not surprisingly) polar opposites. Let's look at Laura:
As you can see, young suffragist Laura has a tough choice ahead of her. The guy on the right is her working class neighbor who believes in her fight to get women the vote. Soldier boy on the left--aka The Man--wants her to settle down and tend his WWI Victory Garden. What to do?
The book covers were captioned at the top with questions and/or comments that presented the dilemma in the book. Even at a young age, I found the questions thought-provoking and usually had an answer of my own ready.
Answer: Pick the guy who's going to get you off that f*cking ship. This is no time for sentimentality.
Answer: Um, okay. That one was a little too cerebral for my 12-year old self. For my 31-year old self too.
Sunfire books were also ahead of their time in that they were multicultural:
Admittedly, Corey was the only non-white heroine in the whole set, so this was kind of the equivalent of Barbie having the occasional token Chinese-American or African-American friend. Still, I applaud Sunfire's efforts. Progressive or no, this was the 1980s, so interracial romances were right out. They give the illusion of it in Jessica here, but that Native American guy never stood a chance.
In fact, I think he knows it because if you look more closely, you can see he looks kind of depressed. But maybe that's just because he bears a striking resemblance to a young Tony Danza:
My mockery aside, I think these books were actually pretty well-written. I owned them all, 20+. I've heard people say that writers often unconsciously pick up the styles of authors they read when they're younger, and in skimming through these, I can see certain conventions I now use. Certainly these aren't my only influences (ah, Dragonlance), but it's nice to know where I got my obsession with tag lines.
Okay, I have to run. Gotta choose between a wealthy mob guy my family approves of and a rugged lumberjack who keeps pictures of me above his bunk bed.