Do you have a teen who refuses to miss an episode of Pretty Little Liars (PLL)? Do they blog, tweet, post, and text constantly about who "A" really is and how the show is finally going to turn out? You aren’t alone. PLL, now in its final season, has gained itself a cult following of super fans who are so skilled at finding even the smallest leads wrapped up in the mystery that they just may be in training to work for the FBI.
You have the show’s creators to thank for that. Avid readers and film buffs, Marlene King and her staff of talented writers are known for hiding plenty of hints and literary quote drops to send its young viewers not only on a hunt for new clues to the puzzle, but also towards a lifelong love for the unforgettable writing found in undeniably classic books.
"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
Alison, one of the main characters in PLL, was obsessed with this controversial read about a middle-aged literary professor disturbingly in love with the young daughter of his new wife. With twists, turns, deaths, and the allure of the once “banned book,” teenagers will love this vintage read that just might shed light on Alison’s real backstory.
*Parental note: "Lolita" is a classic and for a good reason. However, you may be wondering if it is right for your child due to the rather disturbing theme. While each family will be different, it is important to note that much of what is portrayed on PLL itself is much more graphic than you will find inside the pages of "Lolita."
"Macbeth" by William Shakespeare
Who could forget this tale of paranoia and madness? “Out damned spot!” These three iconic words are uttered over and over again on the hit Freeform television series and many believe that this is indicative of the possibility that the Pretty Little Liars are actually guilty of having killed someone the night Alison went missing.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
Featured from the first episode and many times onward, the themes, quotes, and characters from Harper Lee’s classic seem to be woven into the actual plot of PLL somehow. From misplaced guilt to childlike characters, "To Kill a Mockingbird" will likely end up having significant meaning by the end of the series…the question is “how?”
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
From Mr. Fitz’s real last name to the costume of Aria on the Halloween train, "The Great Gatsby" seems to hold a lot of weight in the relationship of Ezra and Aria. Spoiler alert: Daisy was a cold and uncaring person in the end, contributing to Gatsby’s demise… could this be a clue that Aria-is-A theorists are on to something?
"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins
Aria’s wallpaper looks an awful lot like the cover design of this famous short story by Charlotte Perkins. Mona also turns to Aria while inside her home and makes mention of her wallpaper saying that it is “so you.” "The Yellow Wallpaper" explores a young woman’s descent into madness and many have theorized that Aria may have been in Radley instead of Iceland. This train of thought arrived when the girls all visited a therapist together. It was noted that all of the other girls had new patient forms - Aria’s was typed and already had a patient I.D. number associated with her appointment.
"Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
PLL loves its controversial books and this is another one that you will need to use your own judgment on, however, the book is often covered in AP English classes and considered a classic must-read. "Catcher in the Rye" is how Spencer first teaches Toby to speak French, after all. It is apparently his favorite read. This is a little suspect because many people recognize this book as what some say is the book most likely to be found in the bookshelf of a killer… but don’t let that scare you off of Salinger. "Catcher in the Rye" is one of the most studied pieces of literature in the world, celebrated for its unique storyline and captivating characters that are simply timeless.
If you are looking for a way to get your teenager interested in reading, basing it around something that they are passionate about can make all the difference in helping your child to develop a lifelong love of reading. With PLL not set to return until April, they will have plenty of time to theorize, obsess, and get lost in the mystery, and maybe, just maybe, lost in a great book too.