Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves

5.0 2
by Miranda Kenneally
     
 

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Dear Teen Me includes reflections and advice from over 70 YA authors (including Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins, and Nancy Holder, to name a few) to their teenage selves. The letters cover a wide range of topics, including physical abuse, body issues, bullying, friendship, love, and enough insecurities to fill an auditorium. So pick a page, and find out which

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Overview

Dear Teen Me includes reflections and advice from over 70 YA authors (including Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins, and Nancy Holder, to name a few) to their teenage selves. The letters cover a wide range of topics, including physical abuse, body issues, bullying, friendship, love, and enough insecurities to fill an auditorium. So pick a page, and find out which of your favorite authors had a really bad first kiss? Who found true love at 18? And who wishes he’d had more fun in high school, instead of studying so hard? Some authors write diary entries, some write letters, and a few graphic novelists turn their stories into visual art. Whether you hang out with the theater kids, the band geeks, the bad boys, the loners, the class presidents, the delinquents, the jocks, or the nerds, you’ll find friends—and a lot of familiar faces—in the course of Dear Teen Me.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 2010, writers Anderson and Kenneally launched a blog where authors posted letters written to themselves as teenagers; more than 70 of those entries are gathered in this book, from Tom Angleberger, Ellen Hopkins, Mitali Perkins, Dave Roman, Sara Zarr, and more. The letters are self-deprecating (“Let’s just start by ripping off the Band-Aid,” says Robin Benway. “You need to let your bangs grow out”), encouraging (“Go ahead and embrace life on the social fringes,” advises Beth Fantaskey), and revealing (“Even though you don’t drink, a certain very cruel, very callous guy is drinking—and there’s nothing I can do now to stop that thing from happening,” writes Carrie Jones). The breadth of emotion and experience the entries cover guarantee that almost any reader will identify with some of the situations and anxieties expressed. Ages 12�up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“The breadth of emotion and experience the entries cover guarantee that almost any reader will identify with some of the situations and anxieties expressed.” — Publishers Weekly

"Along with sincere encouragement and sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious, honesty, we also get photos of the writers as teenagers—in all their goofy, once-trendy, clumsy glory; that is to say—in all their beautiful, open, hopeful, eager embraces of the life they hope to grow into." — ForeWord Reviews

Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
This collection of "letters" from authors of books for young adults (predominantly) to their teen selves (variously defined as 12 to 18 years old) started as a still-extant blog (http://dearteenme.com/), and that is the preferred form for this type of communication. These letters do not build on one another but are each a one-off piece of advice, ostensibly gained from years of experience, about how to better navigate the shoals of adolescent seas. Letters are arranged alphabetically by author's last name; there is no indication of why the letters were chosen from among all the letters submitted to the blog, or even if all the letters originally came from the blog—although a quick perusal reveals that the vast majority of authors overlap the two venues. Readers can dip in and out, which is much more easily done online, where you can use a menu to select a particular author. Some value added by the book, i.e., not found on the blog, includes the Q & A's ("most embarrassing moment," "celebrity crush," "first job," and "first kiss"), which were often painfully funny, and the graphic-art "letters" from several creators (e.g., Erin Hicks, Tracy White), which were often the most compelling. There are a lot of challenging topics covered—children of holocaust survivors, children of alcoholic or jailed parents, eating disorders, abandonment, homosexuality, physical abuse, bullying—but no easy way to quickly identify the relevant entries. Better to direct teens to the blog or targeted books than handing them this book to wade through. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
VOYA - Vikki Terrile
If you had the chance, what would you say to the teen you used to be? Editors Anderson and Kenneally pose that question to young adult authors through their DearTeenMe blog and have compiled dozens of those letters into a book. This intriguing premise that works well as a blog stumbles a bit in print. Reading the book as a whole elicits a certain voyeuristic squeamishness since all of the authors do a good job of tapping into the raw and excruciating emotion of their teen years. The book’s greatest weakness is that the letters often feel like a tease with a platitude tacked on; they provide just a glimpse into what is the heart of the authors’ stories, and there is little satisfaction in reading the predictable advice (love yourself, you really are beautiful, etc.) given in hindsight. While many of the letters deal with almost caricatured teen angst, a few hint at deep pain and true horrors. There are some letters from LGBTQ authors and at least a couple from authors with disabilities, but very few authors of color are included, and this lack of diversity may limit the book’s appeal. Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Hindsight is entirely 20/20 in this compendium of letters written by young adult authors to their teenage selves. The selections include anecdotes and advice that are sad, funny, or a combination of both. Topics range from sickness and addiction to loneliness and regret to bullying and abuse. All of the letters are filled with reason and wisdom that few teens possess. Each one is accompanied by a photograph of the writer as a young adult. Interspersed throughout the book are fun Q & A spreads about celebrity crushes and first jobs. Avid readers and aspiring writers will enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of these authors. A couple of the selections written by graphic novelists are drawn in comic form. Letters are arranged by the author's last name, so teens looking for advice on a particular subject or issue will not be able to easily glean pearls of wisdom from this collection. Better organization would have made the book perfect, but overall, Dear Teen Me is a winning collection for both teens and former teens, alike.Lindsay Klemas, JM Rapport School for Career Development, Bronx, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Plodding through this mostly disposable collection of blog posts is claustrophobically tiring, like watching someone else reflected in a hall of mirrors. The preponderance of young, white, female authors of commercial series fiction may explain the chatty, repetitious content and tone, larded with perishable pop-culture references. The view that blogs and social networks foster petty narcissism is reinforced here as authors reassure their teen selves that they'll be hotties, win awards and be admitted to their first-choice colleges. Popularity, dating and looks are major themes. Writers congratulate themselves on surviving parental divorce or mean behavior from peers. Reflecting on one's teens from a vantage point of very few years (one was 18 when she "looked back") can sound self-congratulatory and pompous--asserting wisdom without having paid the dues of accumulated life experience. Tough personal stories often feel flat--the short form and high concept work against emotional depth. Scattered among the self-reverential messages are a few gems: Joseph Bruchac's account of how a personal choice became a foundation for self-esteem; Carrie Jones' refusal to be defined by stigma; Don Tate's tough love–style straight talk to his messed-up teen self. Michael Griffo, Mike Jung and Mitali Perkins also avoid cute-speak, conveying genuine feeling and the deeper complexity and contradictions of life as it's lived, not just blogged. Some gems for readers willing to get out the sieve. (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781936976218
Publisher:
Zest Books
Publication date:
10/30/2012
Series:
True Stories Series
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
311,335
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Miranda Kenneally is the author of Catching Jordan (fall 2011), Playing Parker (fall 2012), and Bad, Bad Thing (spring 2013). She is the co-creator of the blog Dear Teen Me. Miranda is represented by Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency.

E. Kristin Anderson is the co-creater of the blog Dear Teen Me. Her poetry has been published worldwide in literary journals. She is also an assistant editor at Hunger Mountain for their YA and Children's section. Look out for Ms. Anderson’s work in the forthcoming anthology Coin Opera II, a collection of poems about video games from Sidekick Books.

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