Sweet Dreams are Made of This… Fiction Set in the 1980’s

As those of us in Generation X are firmly planted in middle age, and the children of Gen X are nostalgic for the music they listened to when they were children, now’s a great time to seek out books either set in the 1980’s or with that 1980’s vibe to them.  We’ve had a dig around the collection and here are some that you might enjoy…

The great believers / Makkai, Rebecca
“In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister. Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Malibu rising / Reid, Taylor Jenkins
“Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party and anticipation is at a fever pitch. By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But ahead of that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family will all come bubbling to the surface.” (Adapted from catalogue)

I must betray you / Sepetys, Ruta
“In a country governed by isolation, fear, and a tyrannical dictator, seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer, but he decides to use his position to try to outwit his handler, undermine the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country.” (Catalogue)

The music shop / Joyce, Rachel
“In 1988 Frank owns a music shop. He is loved by many people but is happy to be alone until Ilse Brauchmann comes into his life. Both hold secret pasts. This is a book about second chances.” (Catalogue)

My best friend’s exorcism : a novel / Hendrix, Grady
“1988. Charleston, South Carolina. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act–different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries–and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?” (Catalogue)

Oona out of order / Montimore, Margarita
“Just because life might be out of order, doesn’t mean it’s broken. It’s new years eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight Oona is torn from her life and everyone she loves, finding herself in her 51 year old body thirty-three years into the future. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that will with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. Hopping through decades, and a lifetime Oona Out of Order is a surprising, magical novel that explores the power of love, the bonds of family, and the wonders of life” (Adapted from catalogue)

Ready player one / Cline, Ernest
“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines — puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win — and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape” (Catalogue)

Silver sparrow : a novel / Jones, Tayari
“A story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle. Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families, the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters, the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle, she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another’s lives.” (Catalogue)

Swing time / Smith, Zadie
“Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.” (Catalogue)

Tell the wolves I’m home / Brunt, Carol Rifka
“It is 1987, and only one person has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus — her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life — someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.” (Catalogue)

Trust exercise : a novel / Choi, Susan
“In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed or untoyed with by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley. The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down.” (Adapted from catalogue)

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