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I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure

I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure

4.3 10
by Larry Smith, Rachel Fershleiser (Editor)

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One life. Six words. What's yours?

True tales of love, loss, good friends, and bad hair days filled Not Quite What I Was Planning, the New York Times bestselling first book in the Six-Word Memoir series—and an international phenomenon. Some of the most compelling were by teens, so now SMITH Magazine has compiled a book written entirely by


One life. Six words. What's yours?

True tales of love, loss, good friends, and bad hair days filled Not Quite What I Was Planning, the New York Times bestselling first book in the Six-Word Memoir series—and an international phenomenon. Some of the most compelling were by teens, so now SMITH Magazine has compiled a book written entirely by these bold, brash truth-tellers. From cancer to creativity, prom dates to promiscuity, and breaking hearts to breaking laws, the memoirs in this collection reveal that often the youngest writers have the most fascinating stories to tell.

Met online; love before first sight.

Hair's pink to piss you off.

I fulfilled my awkwardness quota today.

I'm seventeen, engaged, and not pregnant.

My mom had my boyfriend deported.

Late for school every single day.

According to Facebook, we broke up.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following two earlier “six-word memoir” titles, this addition collects supersuccinct memoirs written by teenagers (who are identified by their first names and last initials). Like graffiti scrawls on a bathroom wall, some are funny (“Contemplated joining circus. Foolishly chose college”), others are poignant (“He said bye with YouTube links,”), while many are bluntly honest (“I regret sleeping with my teacher”). Select b&w illustrations are also included. The range of powerful emotions, expressed in just a few words, make this an ideal pick for teens seeking evocative, easily relatable stories. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Deborah L. Dubois
It is amazing how much one can fit into six words. This book by SMITH Magazine, the creator of Not Quite What I Was Planning (HarperCollins, 2008), offers teens the chance to tell their life stories in six words. Some are funny—"Can't chew gum without blowing bubbles." Many are sad—"College feels lonely, even with friends." Others are disturbing—"You made me stronger. Thanks, rapist." All are intriguing. Each one makes the reader think about the story behind the story. Nearly 800 teens shared their six-word memoirs for other teens to read. Other examples are, "Skinny girl in a fat body"; "I am almost always missing something"; "My true colors are very bright!"; "My weird elbows make me special"; and "But my life's only just begun." Every teen will find something to which they can relate in this book. It is a great book to pick up and sample but not for reading cover to cover. The stories are not organized in any way, but an index points to specific subjects. The editors invite teens to submit their six-word memoirs at http://www.smithteens.com/sixwords. Teachers will find this collection an inspiration for student writing assignments or class discussions of current issues facing teens. Reviewer: Deborah L. Dubois
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Almost 800 authors, ranging in age from 13 to 19, contributed to this thought-provoking collection of individual memoirs. Based on the interest resulting from the publication of Not Quite What I Was Planning (HarperCollins, 2008), the editors of SMITH Magazine decided to challenge teens to write the story of their lives in a few brief words. The result is a compelling compendium that will provoke laughter—"Mom just revoked my creative license"; sadness—"Grandma is dying while I'm out shopping"; and empathy and thought—"In the nest, twigs are sharp." Less than a dozen of the selections, most of which are not as good as those by "obscure" authors, are written by famous teens. The short length, relevant topics, and authentic emotions will ensure that this book will appeal to a wide variety of teens, including reluctant readers. English teachers, theater teachers, and student book-club sponsors will revel in the instructional possibilities that could spring from this anthology. It may require some initial hand selling, but ultimately this book will find broad appeal in most collections.—Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD
Kirkus Reviews
SMITH, an "online magazine obsessed with personal storytelling," invited almost 800 teens, famous and not, to take a page from Hemingway and submit their own six-word memoirs. These memoirs, printed on the page asymmetrically, are mostly from girls and reveal a wide range of experiences and emotions. Some are funny ("Aspiration: Colonize Mars. You're not invited"), others are poignant ("Laughed at abuser's funeral. Felt guilty") and some are provocative ("I live bigger than your labels"). All leave readers wondering about the circumstances in the writers' lives that led them to write those six (in places, seven) particular words and what it says about the lives they plan to lead in the future. PostSecret readers will love this book, which is one to pass around and (unfortunately for libraries) mark up. Some drawings accompany the memoirs. A novelty, yes, but one worth having in the era of Twitter. (Nonfiction. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

LARRY SMITH is an adjunct associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and a recipient of the University of Waterloo’s Distinguished Teacher Award. During his longstanding tenure, Smith has taught and counselled more than 23,000 students on the subject of their careers, representing more than 10 percent of UW’s alumni. Smith has worked with more than 500 teams of student entrepreneurs, advising them as they have created companies of significant size and success across industries as broad-reaching as communications, software, robotics, entertainment, design and real estate. Smith is also president of Essential Economics Corporation, an economic consulting practice that serves a wide range of public and private clients. “Why You Will Fail to have a Great Career,” his TEDx Talk based on his experience counselling students, has been viewed by over six million people.

Rachel Fershleiser is SMITH's memoir editor and has written for the Village Voice, the New York Press, Print, and the National Post. Rachel lives in New York City.

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I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Lauren817 More than 1 year ago
With the popularity of such sites like Fmylife and Post Secret, you just had to know that something like I Can't Keep My Own Secrets was going to come out eventually. Though, unlike those websites, I Can't Keep My Own Secrets is told in six word memoirs making an interesting difference in the post card format for Post Secret and the mini paragraph for Fmylife. One of my favorite aspects of this novel would be how it was a short and could easily be read in one sitting. Which, therefor, makes this a perfect start for those reluctant teen readers out there who will be awed by the interesting tales these teens tell. Plus, most of the memoirs are stories that teens can relate to in one way or another. Overall, I Can't Keep My Secrets is a great fast read, that I definitely suggest to teens everywhere. Since, it's a great way to pass time and an interesting book! Grade: B
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just spent 9 bucks. And this is 34 fricken pages. Fml.
Ashley Young More than 1 year ago
Very inspiring book. Wish it went on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My life in six words. Before- Smart. Outcast. Now- Failing. Popular.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
After NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING: SIX-WORD MEMOIRS BY WRITERS FAMOUS & OBSCURE came out, many teens wrote in to Smith Magazine with their own six-word memoirs. And the editors put them together to create a book that is filled with teenage thoughts and insights. This was an incredibly easy book to fly through. And totally engaging. There were so many great things that the teens said. And a lot of them were shocking. There were memoirs about falling in love, being heartbroken, being gay, having parents who were neglectful, having diseases, missing family members who passed away, and so much more! I think my favorite one was actually the very last one in the Advanced Readers Copy that I have: "My life story: to be continued.~by Cassie H." And it made me think. Just what would I say if I had to write about my life in six words? How about: Huge Florida Gator fan and bookworm.
Kat2 More than 1 year ago
As a middle school reading teacher, I am always looking for a book that catches my students' eyes. Well, not only could I not put it down, my 13-year-old daughter actually stopped texting to read this entire book in a couple of hours! She started flipping through it, and then said, "Wait, let met just start from the beginning." Each "poem" or memoir is just six lines - but what a powerful punch each one can pack. We went from laughing to almost crying with the words written by these teens. As an added bonus, Taylor Swift and other famous teens have contributed their own six-word memoirs. This is a book that will make you say "wow," and is a great conversation starter for your class, as well as a good topic for poetry writing. I was truly touched by some of the entries. Parents be warned, there are some touchy topics in here, such as rape, suicide, death. Heavy stuff. However, what an incredible chance for us adults to see what is going on in the minds and hearts of teenagers today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
stephanieparler More than 1 year ago
Maybe I have a biased opinion since I am featured in book, but I feel that I Can't Keep My Own Secrets is a wonderful read for the new age where teens like everything in short bursts and nothing that is long and drawn out. SmithTeens Six Word Memoirs have been around since 2005, roughly the beginning of the era where sharing your secrets and most humiliating stories on the computer was acceptable. This book features hundreds of quick glimpses into the life of average teenagers from all over the world. It is no doubt that everybody can relate to at least one of them. In this age, I would not be surprised if Six Word Memoirs helped to make writing and reading popular once again--even if it is only for one short sentence at a time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago