Allison's Book Bag

Dear Teen Me, Edited by E. Kristen Anderson and Miranda Kenneally

Posted on: October 31, 2012

“For the loners, the stoners, the freaks and the geeks, the head cheerleaders, and the kids eating lunch in the library, the starting lineup, the benchwarmers, the glee club, and the marching band. This book is for everyone who has ever felt alone or misunderstood, for everyone who dreads the prom and also for every teen in the homecoming court.”

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves is for past and present teens who felt like they were in the darkest depths of a pit. It is also for anyone who grew up aspiring to become a published writer. In Dear Teen Me, you’ll find close to seventy letters written by published authors to their teen selves.

We all have our idols. For some it’s movie stars or athletes. For me, it’s authors. I devour every and all author biographies I can find. My favorite types of authors, of course, are those who write for children and young adults. For that reason, events like the Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival feel like heaven. And naturally when I received an email earlier this fall inviting me to participate in the Dear Teen Me virtual book tour, I instantly responded “Yes!” without even checking my calendar. Then as soon as my copy of Dear Teen Me arrived, I put aside other obligations and read the book’s almost two hundred pages in one evening. If young adult authors are your idols, you’ll love Dear Teen Me from Zest Books.

Edited by E. Kristen Anderson and Miranda Kenneally, Dear Teen Me began as a website where authors shared their experiences with teens so that “teens would know that they are not alone, and that they are cared for, and that there are adults who remember what it’s like to be a teen.” The two editors began posting letters on the site in 2010. Almost immediately, they began receiving notes from other authors who wanted to participate. Readers were appreciative, saying that the letters reflected their experiences. One year later, Anderson and Kenneally were invited by Zest Books to compile the web site’s letters in a book, which I am now reviewing for you.

My one disappointment is that most of the featured authors are unknown to me. Yet that didn’t stop me from savoring each letter. Even if the authors aren’t J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyers, they view the world through a writer’s eyes, using words to make sense of the world, communicate their thoughts, and gain the spotlight. And so I still felt elated to read Dear Teen Me, in the way others might feel dizzy over pop star gossip or heady over fantasy sports scores.

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for those of you don’t feel the least bit faint when reading about authors, well, the beauty of Dear Teen Me is its wealth of wisdom. The letters cover not only almost every kind of teen experience, they also offer a diverse range of perspectives. Do you remember how in Breakfast Club, five students from diverse walks of life become friends? The Brain, the Athlete, the Princess, the Criminal, and the Basket Case learn to see beyond their differences, and realize that they are more than labels. And the reality is that within every one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a princess, and a criminal, and a basket case. In the same way, by the time you finish reading all the letters in Dear Teen Me, you’ll feel as if you can relate to all those so-called strangers who grew up around you–and surround you still. We are not so alone in the world as we think, and editors E. Kristen Anderson and Miranda Kenneally have created a book that proves it.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

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