|Title: Dear Teen Me|
|Editors: E. Kristen Anderson and Miranda Kenneally|
|Publisher: Zest Books|
|Elements: Advice, Memoirs|
|Series: Stand alone|
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 was always a fan of the Chicken Soup series. The Teenage set were my in secondary school, and contained stories about growing up stronger, advice about family, love and just plain navigating how to navigate the rocky waters of being a teenager.
Dear Teen Me is a similar book. It’s marketed towards readers of YA fiction, young and old alike,though it’s accessible to everyone and contains similar themes. An advantage for YA readers is that they get to know more about their favorite authors, and how the experiences portrayed in the book lent themselves to the fiction that was published.
While all these stories gave me an insight into the authors, this has its pros and cons.
Pros: Seeing the author as more than just his/her occupation, as a person.
Cons: Not seeing the author as ‘just’ the author of a book you love.
The latter is a bit iffy; it can colour your experience of their books if you’re not fully immersed reading. Best scenario, it enriches your experience. Worst scenario, it overshadows the story.
Let’s face it: in such a collection, most of the stories are bound to be heartbreaking, with similar inspiring themes such as ‘not giving up’ and ‘things get better.’ About changing the past so as not to have regrets in the future: I understand the sentiment. For me, it’s okay to have regrets, though I wouldn’t change anything that has happened. The past, bittersweet as it is, shaped the person I now am.
Several letters are resonated with me:-
Favourite format: Robin Benway’s letter set as a list of advice.
Favourite stories: Beth Fantaskey and Gretchen McNeil (with bonus cute pictures).
Totally heartbreaking: Stephanie Kuehnert and Robin Benway.
This is a collection of letters of varying depths, emotions and stories. While I was open to the idea of some heartache, nothing prepared me for the reality. There were some truly heartbreaking stories. Luckily, there are several comics and Q&As with the authors every few chapters, designed to break the emotional downswing and balance the collection. There are also several design choices that further reinforced the letter setting; I love that each letter was signed and contained a photo of the author set like a stamp to reinforce the ‘letter’ setting. How brave are the authors to put the photos of them?
Overall, it’s a great collection that inspires the reader. A small note: get your pack of tissues ready, just in case.