Back-to-back non-fiction reviews – this never happens here on EDIWTB!

I will start off by saying that if you are not a fan of the 80s or the movies, you should stop reading right now.

Gora If you are a fan of either the 80s or the movies, then this is a book for you: You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried, by Susannah Gora. Gora's book is a detailed, thorough, juicy and insightful chronicle of the making of the great 80s teen movies like The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Say Anything, etc. I grew up in the 80s, and those were the formative movies for me. I was pretty much the same age as Samantha Baker when Sixteen Candles came out, and I was looking ahead toward college when I saw St. Elmo's Fire, so those movies were both aspirational and reflective of what I was going through at the time.

Chapter by chapter, Gora explores the making of these movies – the scripts, the casting, the direction, and the behind-the-scenes scoop you've always wondered about – as well as the importance of the movies' soundtracks, the relationship between the legendary director/writer/producer John Hughes and his young cast members, the writing of the article that coined the term "Brat Pack", and the impact these movies have had on filmmaking in the decades since. While Gora is clearly a huge fan of these films, her book is clear-eyed and objective, her storytelling clear and readable. She talked to all the major players (actors, directors, critics) from the decade, with the exception of the man who is the focus of most of the book (Hughes), a recluse for the last few decades of his life.

I especially loved the chapter about movie soundtracks and how much importance Hughes placed on the selection of the songs that formed the backdrop for his most pivotal scenes. He "introduced many American teenagers [including this one!] to the wistful world of New Wave music" and believed that music "gave a more textured sense of who these characters were, since at that age, music is so clearly linked with identity."

I can't really do You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried justice in a short review; there is so much in here that I found interesting. It's definitely a trip down memory lane, but also a compelling look at a decade of filmmaking that transformed a genre and made a permanent impact on the directors and actors we watch today. Like I said at the beginning, this book isn't for everyone. But if you're 80s-obsessed like me (look at the name of my blog!), or simply want to know more about these iconic movies, I highly recommend picking this book up.

Susannah Gora has generously offered to give away a copy of You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried on EDIWTB. If you want to win, comment here before Monday, April 12 and tell me your favorite 80s movie or soundtrack song. (Mine is easy: "If You Were Here" by the Thompson Twins, which played at the end of Sixteen Candles when Jake waits for Samantha outside the church. Sigh.) Oh and hi FTC! This was a review copy thanks to Gora and Crown.

Good luck, and long live the 80s.


  • April 8, 2010 - 4:43 am | Permalink

    I was too young to see these movies when they came out, and a lot of them I still haven’t seen!
    But I did love St Elmo’s Fire and the song Love Theme from St Elmo’s Fire. “We laughed until we had to cry….”

  • Susan B
    April 8, 2010 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    There were so many well-placed songs in John Hughes’ movies, but my personal favourite is Dream Academy’s version of “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want,” which ran over the Art Institute scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Great scene with the perfect music to match.

  • Jen
    April 8, 2010 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I feel badly that today’s teens and pre-teens have the Twilight movies — no comparison to the great teen movies of the 80s!
    Favorite song — of course, Pretty in Pink. It was such a harsh, raspy song about the color pink — loved it!

  • Ann F
    April 8, 2010 - 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Gayle, thanks so much for reviewing this. I can’t wait to read it. You KNOW I love the 80s.

  • April 8, 2010 - 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh that was a great scene and song in Sixteen Candles – but I liked Pretty in Pink just a bit better. “If You Leave” – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – is still one of my favorites. I would love to read this book. Thanks for hosting.

  • Stacy
    April 8, 2010 - 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I love watching these movies — even now, at age 37, I watch “Sixteen Candles” and feel younger than Sam. (I was 11 when I saw it for the first time.) My favorite song, though, is “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from “The Breakfast Club.” Every time I hear it, I picture the final scene of the movie.

  • April 9, 2010 - 1:42 am | Permalink

    Great classic movie!

  • Amy W.
    April 9, 2010 - 6:17 am | Permalink

    I need to read this book! There was time when I could quote every line from the Breakfast Club. I fell madly in love with Eric Stolz in Some Kind of wonderful…dreamy. The soundtracks were amazing. Very hard to pick a favorite song, though I loved Ducky lipsynching to Try a Little Tenderness….

  • April 9, 2010 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    Can’t wait to read this one! I was on a twitter chat with Ms. Gora a few weeks ago that was a lot of fun.

  • April 9, 2010 - 8:12 am | Permalink

    I think Breakfast Club has to be my favorite. John Huges went to my high school and many of the scenes were actually filmed there in several of his movies! If You Leave is for sure my favorite song from his movies. This book would bring me down memory lane for sure!
    my email is

  • April 9, 2010 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

    This is like choosing a favorite pair of shoes…to hard! I’ll have to go with “If You Leave” by OMD from “Pretty in Pink.” And, while not from a Brat Pack film, honorary mention goes to “Purple Rain.” Now I must turn on my 80s mix and crimp my hair.

  • Larissa Fair
    April 9, 2010 - 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I want to read this and John Hugues was legendary.
    Danke Schoen from Ferris Buellar is stellar. And of course how can you not mention In Your Eyes via Say Anything?
    I love cheesy 80’s ballads.
    Lionel Richie Hello (was that 80s?)
    Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship
    OH MANNEQUIN — love those movies.
    OK I’ll stop, I just want the book. 🙂

  • ruth
    April 10, 2010 - 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this excellent post. I wold remember Flashdance as the best ever, both the movie and soundtrack.

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