"ANYONE WHO RELATES to Rookie is welcome to read it," says Tavi Gevinson over the phone. She's just gotten home from the penultimate tour stop for Rookie Yearbook Four, a September-issue-of-Vogue-sized collection of writings by and for teenagers (and former teenagers) from her website, rookiemag.com. My question is self-serving: "Is it okay for adults to read Rookie or am I creepy?" Though I'm nearly a decade older than Gevinson, I read Rookie, and so do many grown-ass women I know. To say I'm not in Rookie's target demographic is to put it charitably. But in a media landscape depressingly rife with recycled ideas and regurgitated clickbait headlines, it's refreshing to see something as new and seemingly organic as Rookie. It also doesn't hurt that it's often the written equivalent of the opening synths of an empowering song by Robyn.
And unless you're leaving "weird comments from someone with the username 'Disappointed Dad,'" says Gevinson, she's happy to have an adult readership, not least of all because Rookie's subject matter—friendship, fashion, sex, necessary playlists—doesn't lose its relevance in your twenties and thirties. "You don't really reach a point where you have everything figured out... some things get better, some things get worse," says Gevinson. "I think when people are trying to figure out how to be there for teenagers or really market to them they often jump through hoops to try and understand the current generation... as if it's totally foreign... "[But] if you just write from your own experience, the emotions resonate even if some of the circumstances are different."
Covering everything from coping with mental illness to how to tell creepy dudes to leave you alone, alongside exclusives like an interview between Florence Welch and Donna Tartt and an entire page of jaunty stickers, Rookie Yearbook Four resonates. It's better than any of the teen magazines I grew up with, and a powerful reminder that adolescent girls are a force to be reckoned with.
As for Gevinson, though she calls Yearbook Four Rookie's "senior year," she's been out of high school for that long, and her life looks very different from the way it did when, at 15, she launched Rookie from her bedroom. It's become a way for her to make a living doing what she loves, with time off for other projects, like her role as a teen witch in the Broadway revival of The Crucible. "I very happily don't remember a lot of what being in high school is like, and now I'm thankful every day that I'm not there," she says. As for Rookie, "It's personal in a different way. It's good. It's a healthier kind of emotional investment."