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

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  572 ratings  ·  133 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, inspirin ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Faber & Faber
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,350)
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Grace
Dec 05, 2007 Grace rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
...more
Michelle
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
eva
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
Becca Becca
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
...more
Ruth
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
Jessica
Apr 29, 2007 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Bronny
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
...more
Ciara
Nov 09, 2008 Ciara rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Patrick
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
Kelly
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
jess
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
...more
Erin
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
Kimberly
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
...more
Chelsea
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
...more
Amber
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
...more
sara
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
Elizabeth
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.

Kristy
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.
Meghan
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
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
Carey
"'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.'"
Aspasia
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
...more
carla
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
...more
Amy
This book needed to be written. Sassy magazine certainly was "the greatest teen magazine of all time." It nurtured a generation of nonconformist preteen and teenage girls by talking to them with respect and encouragement. The editors also had great taste in entertainment most of the time (check out the Kurt Cobain/ Courtney Love cover before Nirvana was super-famous, but excuse the obsession with 90210).

This book probably should have been an extended essay, but you can't blame the authors for s
...more
Amelia
I was born in 1988, so missed Sassy entirely due to being too young. These days, I'm a little obsessed with Rookie (I'm a bit too old for that, but who cares?). Rookie was co-founded by Tavi Gevinson & Jane Pratt (although the project was eventually totally handed off to Gevinson). So I just wanted to read this to gain an understanding of where Rookie got its inspiration.

Rookie, btw, was founded in 2010, and this book was published in 2007. So it was interesting to me to read the last chapte
...more
Lauren orso
oh, i loved this.

edit:

actually, in hindsight, all the reason i love it are the reasons this magazine was terrible, and why i'm a lousy feminist. i found out about sassy from reading jane in college and was able to track down some issues and i loved it, for two primary reasons: 1. my obsession with early 90s/riot grrrl/grunge culture; 2. how fucking bratty, and sometimes outright mean, it is. particularly, i've been thinking about the part with the ostracized intern and how truthfully that relat
...more
Maija
Mar 18, 2009 Maija rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
I grew up in a small town, pre-internet days (okay, the internet was just gaining some popularity by the time I graduated, but I was FAR from online). Sassy magazine was huge for me! I remember finding it at Safeway, of all places. It's where I first heard about bands like Sonic Youth. I remember their Courtney & Kurt cover story very fondly, when Nirvana & Hole were so cool. And, Doc Martens with your prom dress? Give me more.

So, Sassy has a very fond spot in my heart. It helped me fee
...more
Jana
I enjoyed this book overall. It's interesting and full of fun details to delight those of us whose teen years were touched by this influential publication.

A few issues I had: Not having read Sassy in many years, I had trouble remembering my own opinions on the magazines' various writers. There are a lot of descriptions throughout the book of how readers reacted to individual writers, but not much in the way of examples for those who haven't picked up a Sassy in a while. I remembered the names o
...more
Sarah
There were reasons this didn't get 5 stars, and I'll get them out of the way quickly: the format was uncessary; the cost prohibitive (19 bucks at a bookstore, I got mine used from Abe); the storytelling scattered and dumbed-down at times. Of these things, the willy-nilly dipping in and out of subject matter, and the very loose organization of the book, frustrated me the most. It meant that moments were mentioned and then re-mentioned, leaving me feeling like the book's sense of time was confusin ...more
Hannah
Having grown up in the UK, slightly too young to be aware of Sassy (born in 1984!), I didn't know an awful lot about the magazine and found this book a really useful portrait of the late 80s/early 90s. The book has a lot of energy and makes the magazine and the experiences of people work there seem very exciting and almost revolutionary. I was the sort of teen who would have enjoyed reading it, had I been a bit older, and it made me almost sad that there was nothing like that for me, growing up ...more
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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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