How Christina Kelly Changed Jane Pratt's Life

You "love book reviews—sorry I cut down on them for a while; they're now back in full force," declared Jane editor Brandon Holley her April editor's letter. Conspicuously missing from the newly replumped book section, though, was a review of a book that seems like a natural fit for Jane's audience: How Sassy Changed My Life. That's Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer's "love letter" to the magazine that kicked off the careers of thousands of women's studies majors turned women's mag editorial assistants—and the career of one Jane Pratt, who served as the seminal teen mag's editor in chief at the tender age of 24. Nary a peep about this book in a magazine that still has Pratt's name on the masthead as "founding editor?"

Maybe it's because of the way Jane's portrayed in the book, for which nearly all of Sassy's former staffers spoke on the record. She's given a lot of credit towards the beginning for helping to create the magazine's signature chatty, first-person-heavy style: the staffers were "personas" and Jane "worked hard on getting each character exactly right." Jane is also praised for being a "charismatic leader" who made staffers feel like "anything was possible." But throughout the rest of the book, she's a background presence.

Much more prominent is Christina Kelly, whose "What Now" and "Cute Band Alert" always seemed to nail the next actually hot new thing and gave the magazine its core of true credibility. And as Meltzer and Jesella have it, once the magazine began to seriously flounder and Jane was off hosting talk shows, Christina became editor in chief in all but name. "Jane was completely not around," Christina is quoted as saying. "I remember I was really not happy being the editor...." A fellow staffer adds that she remembers that "Jane was not being super straightforward with [Christina,] and she'd been with Jane since the beginning. Christina was running the show every day and she didn't feel that Jane was being honest with her—she didn't feel she had the inside information. There was extreme tension between them. That was no secret."

As it turned out, Jane was keeping her search for a new position under wraps—when the magazine was sold so quickly that the staff wasn't even allowed to go back to their desks, she was already developing a new project at Time Inc. that would later, at Fairchild, become Jane. Her first hire there was Christina, so some sort of rapprochement must have been achieved. Still, this version of the Sassy story doesn't reflect so well on the lady who's currently kicking off her third act. Maybe that's why Jane didn't review the book: it might have just been a little too Jane.