Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Dear Teen Me

Dear Teen Me:
Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves
Publication date: October 30th 2012
by Zest Books

Dear Teen Me includes 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? 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. And 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.
 *A copy was provided by Zest Books for review purposes*

We all wonder what high school would have been like if we knew then what we know now. Or at least I do. I would not have been so hard on myself, for one. But on the other hand, if you could change any part of your high school experience, would you risk losing where you ended up?

This novel is filled with high school anecdotes; from funny to heartbreaking, we get snippets of these authors lives that are honest and raw. It's such a unique and amazing experience to be able to learn more about so many authors that I have come to know and adore. Some stories were, I'm sure, as difficult to read than it was to write. There are some that bring up really tough issues: eating disorders, suicide, rape, abuse, sexuality; while others are very sweet and heartwarming: first kisses, first loves, friendships, and, most of all, making memories. The format of these is very… diverting. It's a completely fun and refreshing book to read. Each letter is unique: We have some funny ones, some written in comic strips, some that are very profound where we glean at the author's soul. There are also Q&A sections where we learn even more author tidbits. And my personal favorite: every letter is signed along with a photo of the author in their teens. The hairdos themselves make this book worth checking out!

High school is a different experience for everyone, and no matter how hard, or how fantastic of a time you had, those are memories that stick with you. And in the end, this book shows that these memories build who you are, but they do not define you. They are what makes you you. None of the letters in this book showed regrets, only advice on how to get through it all so they could become the fabulous person they are. I loved that this, a work of non-fiction, could really get such a huge message out there. High school is not fiction, and we all survived.

There are a lot of great books out there that I wish teenagers would read so they could find strength, courage, and meaning from the horrors of high school, or life. This is definitely one of them. No matter if you're dealing with a "simple" heartbreak from a break-up, or a life altering problem, everyone can find a little bit of themselves in at least one of these letters. It's candid and authentic; you learn so much about these authors in these brief letters. No matter who you were, or who you are, I would recommend this book to you!

4 Hot Espressos