Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review of Dear Teen Me

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves 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.

I love the concept behind Dear Teen Me.  I think some of the mistakes I’ve made throughout my life are ones I’ve learned from, but sometimes one just looks back and cringes or wishes one had done things differently.  That is precisely what the authors in this book talk about.

Every letter in this book has a different tone. Some are sad and somber, some are funny, and others reminded me a lot of my teenage self.  I wish I could say every latter in this anthology is a standout, but I only really loved a select few.  Regardless, even the ones that I didn’t love helped me see things from a different perspective, or understand how drastically different the experience of growing up can be for everyone.

I could go on for a few paragraphs about Dear Teen Me, which is what I normally do, but instead I’m going to write a letter to my teen self.

Dear Teen Me,

You’ve got a lot going on. For a seventeen-year-old girl, you’ve got it pretty together.  You get good grades, participate in extra-curriculars, eat well, and are well read.  You’ll get into a good college, and so far, your adult life is off to a solid start.

Regardless, there are two things you can fix, and the sooner you do so, the happier you’ll be.

Start by being a better person.  You’re nice enough to the kids at school, and you have decent manners.  Still, you can be hard to get along with.  Some of the things you say are downright tactless.  Or awkward.  It makes it challenging for you to make friends.  I know you’ve got friends now, but people will see you as a nicer and more well-rounded person if you make this change.  And let’s be honest—in some respects, you do care what others think of you.  When you get older and start applying for graduate school and looking for work, it will matter what other people think of you, because they could decide whether or not you get that scholarship.

Also? Try being a little bit less judgmental of your peers.  Even if you don’t voice your opinions, ask yourself this question: is it really your place to judge them?  Because it probably isn’t.

The second item on our agenda is a bit more shallow, but just as important: your appearance.  Right now you’re willing to settle for clothes that look okay and are only kind of flattering.  The outfits you put together are sometimes mediocre and unoriginal.  One day, you’re going to decide to that you need to spend just a little bit more time shopping for clothes.  You’ll pick out a few things that are really nice instead of a lot of cheap clothes.  You’ll put just a little bit of extra thought into how you can wear the clothes you have.  I’m not, however, saying that you need a full face of make-up and super styled hair every day.  Just pick out clothes that enhance your natural beauty, and the rest will figure itself out.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, I know.  However, when you put in just a little extra effort, more people you notice you and comment on how nice you look.  Your confidence will skyrocket.  Suddenly, guys will start to notice and actively pursue you.  It’s strange, but decidedly a change for the better.

Overall, you’re doing great. I’m mostly proud of the person you are, and I know that you are going to grow a lot over the coming years, especially in college.  Just keep my suggestions in mind.  You’ll be in a much better place when you do.

Adult Liz 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!

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