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Literature / The Winnie Years

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The Winnie Years is a middle-grade realistic fiction series written by Lauren Myracle. It began with Eleven in 2004, which was followed by Twelve, Thirteen, Thirteen Plus One, and a prequel, Ten. As the titles imply, the books follow a girl named Winnie from ages ten to fourteen, as she deals with friends, family, puberty, and boys. Most of the books have twelve chapters, one for each month; only Thirteen Plus One has a different format.

This book series provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Gail and Malena are popular girls who are nasty to others. Mindy also qualifies; she exerts power over other girls by forming a secret club in which she and her best friend choose girls with the "right" style to join them in being mean to others.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Ty is often annoying to Winnie, though they generally get along well.
  • Blatant Lies: When Winnie, Sandra and Ty sneak into an aquarium to return a penguin that Ty stole from the aquarium, they are caught by a security guard, and Winnie makes up a story about Sandra being a mute who collects pets. She delivers the story in an awkward manner, so the security guard can tell that the story is fake.
  • Brutal Honesty: When Sandra finds out about Winnie badmouthing Dinah in Twelve, she is brutally honest to Winnie. When Winnie says, "I'm an awful human being," Sandra says "Pretty much."
  • Butch Lesbian: Erika in Thirteen Plus One wears a wife-beater, army fatigues and combat boots, and is described by Winnie as butch. She has a femme girlfriend.
  • Character Development: Naturally, Winnie changes over the course of the series as she ages; she becomes more concerned about boys and her appearance, and more serious, though she still is silly sometimes.
  • Class Clown: Alex Plotkin is an annoying boy who's always goofing around.
  • Coming of Age Story: The series follows Winnie as she grows from a child into an adolescent and navigates puberty, her first relationship, changes in her friendships, and the increasing pressure to look good and conform.
  • Foreshadowing: In Ten, the girls at Winnie's day camp discuss a cute boy at the camp, whose name they know rhymes with "Mars". Winnie later has an encounter with him and thinks he is "more than adorable". This is Lars, who in (chronologically) later books is Winnie's boyfriend.
  • Girliness Upgrade: At the beginning of the series, Winnie isn't interested in fashion and doesn't care what she looks like, but as the series progresses, she starts caring more about her appearance and wearing makeup sometimes.
  • Goth: Winnie's ex-best friend Amanda goes through a phase of dressing in a Goth style and adopting a sullen attitude.
  • Hippie Parents: Cinnamon's parents are hippies, hence her unusual name.
  • Jerk Jock: Chris, an arrogant jock who wears a shirt that says "License to Hunt Illegal Immigrants".
  • Karma Houdini: In Twelve, Cinnamon says mean things about Dinah on the phone to Winnie, and tricks Winnie into gossiping back, not telling her that Dinah is listening in. She doesn't face any consequences for this and doesn't directly apologize.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Dinah is sweet and innocent and loves cats.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In Thirteen Plus One, when Winnie, Dinah and Cinnamon are looking for a camp for Dinah to attend, they stumble upon a site for a teen nudist camp, and are both amused and horrified by it.
  • No Social Skills: Dinah is quite socially awkward: she laughs "too late...or too loud, or too long", says embarrassing things, and is clueless about how people view her.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted: Winnie gets her period in Twelve.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted:
    • There are two minor characters named Erica/Erika. One is a little girl who bothers Ty over having pink toenails at the pool in Ten, and one is a girl at the summer beach program in Thirteen Plus One.
    • Also, Lucy is the name both of Winnie's aunt and of a girl in Winnie's middle school who spreads a rumour that Dinah has bulimia.
  • Secret Santa: Winnie's grade does one of these in Ten. Winnie is assigned a girl named Mindy, and gives her mini peanut butter cups in a painted container. Mindy tells Winnie that she doesn't like the gift, and makes Winnie cry. Later in the book, Mindy becomes Winnie's bully.
  • Skipping School: In Thirteen, Winnie is feeling miserable on Valentine's Day, so she decides to skip school with her sister Sandra.
  • Slice of Life: The books follow the everyday life of a preteen/teen girl as she deals with ordinary issues involving friends, family, boys, and growing up.
  • Spin-Off: There is a spin-off series for younger readers, focusing on Winnie's little brother Ty.
  • Teasing the Substitute Teacher: In Twelve, Winnie's classmates give wrong names when a substitute teacher takes attendance, and consider playing other pranks on her, including taping her to her desk.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Winnie and Amanda. Amanda is the girly-girl, liking such things as tanning, fashion, makeup, cheerleading, and boys, while Winnie (in earlier books) is the tomboy, who doesn't care about those things and just wants to have fun and be active.
  • Valentine's Day Vitriol: In Thirteen, Winnie hates Valentine's Day because she had recently broken up with her boyfriend and is single.