Today, the ticket for young adult authors to achieve any kind of success is either to write about another dystopia, or about someone young and beautiful dying of a terminal disease. Once upon a time in the age where book stores were more plentiful, children and teen book shelves were littered with these thin novels about high school sleuths and victims dealing with murder and mayhem. It was like going to your local Blockbuster (what the hell is that?) and seeing that long aisle full of horror VHS tapes. Except these were book shelves. R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike were probably the most popular authors of this genre in the nineties, but authors like the late Lois Duncan had been writing for the teen demo since the seventies.
These books were a treat for kids back then. You got them at school book fairs, or you could buy them through the handy ordering sheet in the back of the novels. Many of them sported eye-catching painted covers - the companies really knew how to draw buyers in. So, pick up one of these quick reads from a Goodwill or off eBay and get lost for an hour in a world here murder is committed and mysteries are all solved within two hundred pages.
Below are specifically chosen books involving secrets, lies, and confessions.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
One year after killing a child on the road and vowing to never tell anyone about it, four now estranged friends start to receive messages saying "I know what you did last summer."
Richie Tankersley Cusick
On their way home from an April Fools party that they weren't supposed to be at, three teenagers witness an accident with no survivors. They vow to keep the accident a secret, but now someone is playing sick pranks on them.
Fear Street: The Confession
A group of friends learns that one of them killed someone, but they promise to keep the crime a secret. Can they trust that this person won't kill again, though?
Gimme a Kiss
Jane's diary of secrets gets leaked to her whole school. Now, people are dying...
When Lucy's friend dies, his mother gives her a box of his belongings, including a videotape that contains evidence of a crime. Someone wants that tape and they will do whatever it takes to get it.
I Saw You That Night! (a.k.a. The Witness)
As part of a bet, Roxie broke into someone's house. There, she witnessed something she wishes she had never seen. She tries to keep it a secret, but someone is now out to make sure she never tells anyone anything. Ever again.
Richie Tankersley Cusick
Ryan feels guilty over being unable to save her sister Marisa from an accident. Weeks after Marisa's death, one of her friends pays the family a visit. Ryan believes that this friend is harboring a dangerous secret about Marisa, though, and it is up to her to find out what it is.
Alicia wakes up in the hospital with amnesia. No one will tell her anything about what happened before all of this. Her own sister, Marta, is of no help either when it comes to helping Alicia remember. But what if Alicia did something terrible and that's why no why no one will tell her the truth? The dark secret Alicia fears - could it be her own?
Sweet Valley High: "R" for Revenge
Jessica and Heather think they have found the perfect faculty advisor for the cheerleaders - the timid librarian, Nancy. But soon the two start to think Nancy has a dangerous, dark secret.
Fear Street: What Holly Heard
Holly's craving for gossip and secrets lands her in trouble when she overhears someone planning a murder.
The Face on the Milk Carton
Caroline B. Cooney
Thinking she looks like the kid on the milk carton's "missing" display, now fifteen-year old Janie starts to believe that her parents are keeping a secret about her past.
Hit and Run
Four friends hit someone while practicing driving one night. They make a pact to leave the body and not report the crime. But the group becomes paranoid once the corpse disappears from the morgue, and they all start to receive ominous messages.
A group of summer camp counselors fear that their shared secret from seven years ago - involving a camper that never made it home - is the motive behind a vengeful killer's actions in the present day.
What's your secret, ONTD?