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.
Thank you to Zest Books for this ARC! This book will be released October 30th, 2012
You may notice that this book has no rating. Certainly it will have to have one on Amazon, Goodreads and the like because they demand it, but Dear Teen Me is, to me, a book that transcends ratings.
What is a rating, anyways? It is a mark of sometimes good technical storytelling, other times it is because of a person’s simple like or dislike of a book. With Dear Teen Me, the former aspect especially holds no place.
Dear Teen Me is not a story. It is a conglomeration of personal, nonfiction stories about the teen years of dozens of YA authors. The concepts of “good technical storytelling” do not apply. The content is just not that kind.
I don’t know what I thought when I requested an ARC of this book. Whatever it was, I only know that the book exceeded my expectations. I was certainly expecting a great deal of “Were you an outsider in high school, because it’s okay to be weird!” and I got that, but not one of these stories was cheesy. Not one was a cliché of an adult trying to empower a teenager. The topics that these authors went over ranged from self-harm and eating disorders to coming out and dealing with abusive parents—and everything in between. Yes, every story had a happy ending and a moral, but you never felt like you were being told. All of the letters—though in some more than others—I felt as if I was intruding on someone’s most personal journal entry, and the that raw emotion on display was not for my eyes.
Dear Teen Me was not a book that I may have picked up of my own volition, simply because I am tired of books where “former teens” share their inspiring stories and tell you how to learn from them. I don’t want to hear inspirational “rah rah” stories meant to make me feel better about myself because it’s okay to be a broody teenager. The authors who contributed here seemed to understand that. No one is lecturing. No one is pretending that wounds leave no scars. No one is shying away from topics sometimes adults and teens alike are afraid of discussing. No one is censoring a thing.
And why would they? They’re writing these for themselves. For their mistakes. For their pain. They just happen to be gracious enough to allow them to be read by others.