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How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  670 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
For a generation of teenage girls, Sassy magazine was nothing short of revolutionary—so much so that its audience, which stretched from tweens to twentysomething women, remains obsessed with it to this day and back issues are sold for hefty sums on the Internet. For its brief but brilliant run from 1988 to 1994, Sassy was the arbiter of all that was hip and cool, inspiring ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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i don't know that this book would hold together for someone who wasn't a sassy reader in its heyday - it would certainly lose a star, at least. i enjoyed the first two-thirds mostly out of nostalgia (not that i'm complaining; that's some good nostalgia right there), but it didn't seem really lively or insightful in its own right until it got to jane's defection, the petersen sale, and the "diaspora." the brief vignettes about the broken fruit chandelier, and about mary putting money aside to aff ...more
Dec 05, 2007 Grace rated it liked it
Recommends it for: nostalgic GenXers
Shelves: 2007
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I was a Sassy girl. Though I was a wee bit young for the demographic, being only nine or ten when the magazine started publishing and sixteen or so when it stopped, I loved my every issue of Sassy. It spoke to me. It taught me. It understood my freaky teen aged self.

And, according to Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer, authors of How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, I was very much not alone. They posit that there are a whole na
Jun 23, 2008 Michelle rated it liked it
I must say, I was quite impressed with Kara Jasella and Marisa Meltzer’s almost completely objective take on Sassy. True story: I was talking with my husband about how we should have his high school-age JV cheerleader daughter read up on Sassy in a not-so-subtle attempt to steer her on a social course that would potentially be more diversified. Just after that conversation, I read “the dark side” in Chapter 6, “The Sassy Ethos,” which politely chastises the magazine for promoting a type of nonco ...more
Becca Becca
Aug 28, 2007 Becca Becca rated it it was ok
I read this in one sitting while at Borders. The font is HUGE, making it possible to read the entire thing in about 20 minutes.

I was disappointed in the book. As a girl who read Sassy growing up, the title of this book seemed really promising. The "love letter" is basically just a summary of what the magazine was all about and how it compared to other mags like Seventeen. I didn't really find anything that new or interesting in this book. I would have given it one star, but it was such a quick r
Nov 09, 2008 Ciara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: sassy devotees, publishers of teen mags, people stuck in 1991
this book goes behind the scenes at "sassy" magazine & explains how it got started (it was based on an off-kilter teen magazine for girls in australia), what made it different from the other teen mags of its era, & what happened on that fateful day in early 1995 when girls across the country found a new issue in their mailboxes after a mysterious three-month absence, only to discover the content of "teen" magazine lurking between the covers. i was a "sassy" subscriber in the early 90s, & ...more
Dec 24, 2010 Ruth rated it really liked it
When I first saw this book, I thought, "wait, did I write that?" Because Sassy really did change my life, coming along at the exact time when I was becoming dissatisfied with the media available to me as a preteen (1988, to be exact). I have to admit wasn't one of the diehard fans who stayed with the magazine until the end- at a certain point (right around the time the font changed, as I remember) I was starting to move on (I wasn't sure if I was changing or the magazine was changing), but for a ...more
Apr 29, 2007 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sassy readers
Shelves: nonfiction
Back when I was a shy, awkward teenager who didn't fit into my small high school, Sassy magazine was my savior. It was written and edited by smart, outspoken women (and men) who weren't afraid to call themselves feminists. Sassy brought underground culture to small town girls like me who didn't have a cool big sister or older friend to show her the ropes. Sassy was written for the girl who didn't want to go to the prom, or who did, but wore combat boots and a vintage dress. The authors of this b ...more
Jan 05, 2011 Bronny rated it it was amazing
After reading this I'm now searching ebay for old copies of Sassy magazine since we didn't have it in Australia. Apparently the original format was based on Australian teen magazine Dolly which is weird because Sassy was ground-breaking and political and really fucking cool whereas I remember reading Dolly as a kid and it was just the standard teen magazine bullshit.

I really loved this book, most of all the chapters about the riot grrrl movement and zine reviews and the whole Olympia scene, it t
Jul 07, 2016 Vrej rated it really liked it
I was born after Sassy's original run ended, but I've always heard about its mythical presence. I didn't really know what this book was gonna be about, but I figured as a 90's alt culture aficionado, it was right up my alley. Needless to say, it satisfied my interests. The 90's marked a time when interests began to get broken up into extreme small subcultures due to the advent of cable TV and the Internet and this book explains why that mindset can't really work out too well anymore. As someone ...more
Jan 18, 2010 Carey rated it really liked it
"'At some point, the typical Sassy girl became a smugly superior alterna-chick,' says [Lara:] Zeises...'I was never actually cool enough to read Sassy. I listened to show tunes and wore leggings until my freshman year in college. But I was smart and funny and subversive in my own way.'"
Feb 18, 2008 Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
So I didn't actually realize at the time that the magazine was that "different" or "revolutionary" than its contemporaries, but I did used to read my younger sister's Sassys once in a while, and although I noticed that they would reference less-than-mainstream topics like riot grrrl or indie bands, for some reason I was under the naive impression that all teen girls' magazines did the same. I might have first heard of Magnapop through the "Cute Band Alert," but can't be sure. One time my bandmat ...more
Apr 27, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it
Despite a somewhat misleading title, I really enjoyed this book. To me, it was more of an arm's length, academic treatment of the rise and fall of Sassy magazine than a love letter to the publication. Still, the authors did a great job of painting a picture of how the magazine got off the ground due to just a few handpicked twenty-somethings in the late eighties. I wish the authors would have continued in this vein and gone even deeper into what it was like in the Sassy offices on a daily basis, ...more
Feb 17, 2010 jess rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, ladyish, zines
It took me a long time to get through this book. I kept putting it down. Now I have to pay late fees! I am getting so bad. I was okay with late fees because it's like, free to use the library you know? So late fees are alright as income-generating for such an awesome service. But now I'm a homeowner and holy crap, I actually DO pay for the library! I saw it on my taxes. So maybe I should get better about late fees and return books on time.

Anyway, about this actual book. It feels good to hold th
Dec 22, 2008 Erin rated it it was ok
When I was a teen, I actually hated Sassy..I thought it was the worst of all the teen magazines and this book really brought back why... it was a depressing, nasty read written by the type of girl who was never pretty and resented those who were. This book also reveals that one of the main goals of these writers was to influence girls to be pro-abortion and pro-gay. They also mentioned how they wanted staff & fans to be politically and socially active but ONLY if they were active in left win ...more
Mar 29, 2011 Kimberly rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, lady-wordsmiths
Although I started reading this book over a month ago, it only took me about 2 hours in total to complete. It's a quick read, and it isn't so much a love story as a long Wikipedia article about the history of Sassy. It was a nice trip down memory lane, though. And I am sad that I got rid of my copies long ago.

It was interesting to learn of some of the behind the scene mechanics that built the magazine and brought it down. Most surprising was how Jane Pratt apparently checked out after fives year
May 03, 2007 Chelsea rated it it was ok
I did not learn anything from this book. Reading a book written by people who read the same magazine as you when you were little is, well, not pointless, but not real point-ful either.
I am just freaked out by nostalgia and attempts to justify it. Yes, this magazine did actually change my life, and I can see how someone who became a writer would want to document that fact. And yes I was really excited to get it in the mail from Amanda. And yes I probably am a writer (to the extent that I am... w
Aug 25, 2008 Amber rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
When I started reading this book, I actually got a little teary remembering how much I loved Sassy in High School. It completely tapped into my angsty teenage self. I don't doubt I ended up a feminist at least in part due to the unapologetic feminism of Sassy.

On the down side, it was depressing to read about the magazine's collapse. I remember getting the NEW Sassy and hating it, but knowing the details doesn't make me feel better about it.

I really want a book that combines all the great issues
Dec 08, 2007 sara rated it liked it
When I was in the 9th grade I shared a locker with the person who would eventually become my oldest, dearest friend. I like to tell people that the only reason I really liked her then is because she had a stack of Sassy in the bottom of our locker three feet high. This is not entirely true, but I did love Sassy Magazine. If you're looking for insight into the magazine, the way it ran, why it ended, and all of that stuff in between this is not the book for you; if you're looking for an excuse to ...more
Jul 09, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I checked this book out after my cousin's boss (male, 50+) made some crack about this magazine. We both mocked his obvious lack of respect for "Sassy" because (duh!) it actually was the "Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time." Knowing the behind the scenes information and the influence the magazine had on current blog writers and zines made our mocking much more delicious.

Also, this book makes me wish I had kept my old issues. Bummer.

Sep 01, 2007 Kristy rated it really liked it
This book was great fun! I loved Sassy magazine as a teenager and was so sad when its publication was halted. It was the magazine for anyone who felt like they didn't "fit" as a young person. The book chronicles the history of the magazine from its start as a spinoff from an Australian publication to its demise at the hands of corporate idiots. I would definitely recommend this book to ANY individual who enjoyed Sassy as a young adult.
Mar 20, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it
History of the greatest magazine ever published for teenage girls. Great behind-the-scenes action for fans of the heyday of Sassy.

And within these pages the authors put a fine point on the all-consuming question of my adolescence.

"Sexual mores were changing drastically in the late 1980s, and girls weren’t having an easy time of it. The more casual attitude toward sex fostered in the sixties and seventies had fully permeated the culture, but the idea that you could have premarital sex if you wan
Sep 05, 2015 Meghan rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Interviews with Sassy writers were my favorite aspect of this, but really this book aimed a direct target at me and my interests. I was a Sassy reader who was in Jane Pratt and co.'s demographic (early teenager) and not an adult reader, but all the reader anecdotes presented here hit home. I think I've written the blog post a couple years ago about how Sassy changed my life.
Michelle Kelley
Jul 22, 2014 Michelle Kelley rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
As a Sassy fan (and later Jane magazine reader), it was great fun to peek behind the scenes to glimpse Sassy's birth, rise, cast of characters, and ultimate demise. It helped answer all those questions of, "What happened?" when the longtime staff suddenly disappeared and everything was turned upside down, and why it ultimately closed. The authors are quick to point out early that one of Sassy's strengths was that the staff members were a huge part of the magazine, and thus, I found the best part ...more
Feb 13, 2016 Tanya rated it liked it
Sassy was the first magazine subscription I ever had. I would look forward to every issue, wanted the title of Sassiest Girl in America, and dreamed of working on the annual reader-produced issue. I didn't read the last few years of Sassy, ending my subscription in the year or so after I graduated high school, but I was still devastated when I heard it shut-down, I think for all the teenage girls who would never have the chance to read it.

I've continued to follow Jane Pratt's career, subscribin
Jul 10, 2014 Aspasia rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
I heard about this book while taking my Intro to Women's Studies class these past few months. I never read Sassy as a teen although I do remember flipping through a few issues in the grocery store while my mom was grocery shopping. I was a faithful "Teen" magazine reader and I can't remember why I never read Sassy. I asked my mom tonight if she had banned or discouraged me from reading it, but she had never heard of it before.
The book was semi-interesting but it would have helped if there had be
Susan Bazzett-griffith
May 13, 2015 Susan Bazzett-griffith rated it it was amazing
I was a die-hard Sassy fan in my preteen and teenage life. Reading this book was like having a transcript of a dysfunctional class reunion of all of my favorite Sassy staff members, and I loved every page. My only complaint was that there were no photos of or from the magazine. I would have loved to have seen a middle section photo spread with at least all of the covers. I loved the book so much I sighed sadly when I finished it. The Sassy era is dead, and that makes me sad. Long live Jane, Chri ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
This is definitely exactly what it promises to be in the subtitle ("A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time"). I was a HUGE fan of Sassy in my teen years and hit it right at its heyday, so I can relate to the fervor that these fans express toward this wonderful but ill-fated magazine. The book shares some enlightening insider scoops on the rise and fall of Sassy, along with some great nostalgic references to favorite columns and declarations of love from past readers. It is well- ...more
Mona Bradley
Aug 15, 2015 Mona Bradley rated it really liked it
This now 40 year old loved Sassy. It was the magazine that spoke to me and who I wanted to be when I grew up. And if my adult life is not totally what I thought it would be, I am still Sassy.

My only knock on this book was it was too short and they didn't mention the Sassy/Sire music cassette samplers from 1991 & 1992. I still have mine and they were well loved.

And who can't forget the Watch It; Listen to It; and Read Listing in 1990 or 1991. That Summer Reading List made my job at the libr
Mar 12, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am still to this day miffed that my carefully-preserved-in-a-paper-bag collection of teen magazines is lost to the trash forever. (Sure I could have moved them to my Chicago apartment--sorry Mom--no hate.) It's the Sassy magazines I wish most to have back. I also credit Sassy for having read The Virgin Suicides at fifteen.

My first experience reading a Sassy magazine in the early '90s, and right away it was notably different. Their sassiest teen girl was round-faced with a pixie cut and a nose
Nov 10, 2014 carla rated it liked it
Before reading this, if you had asked me what Sassy meant to me, I would have said it was just a magazine that got me. I remember reading about the controversial first issue and running off to get a subscription. Well, if running off entailed mailing a subscription request and a check. I kept my subscription until the magazine was sold. Once they changed the format and writing style, it was over.

I really wanted this book to be a series of essays about how it impacted one person's life. Instead
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Marisa Meltzer is the co-author of How Sassy Changed My Life. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, New York magazine, Salon, Slate, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, and People. "
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“In some way, the magazine helped validate a new kind of American manhood--the kind of guy who would court you with mix tapes, sported Converse Chuck Taylors and shaggy bedhead on his lanky frame, wept over the disappearing rain forest, and had Backlash on his bookshelf.” 1 likes
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