Reviews for Dear Teen Me


Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
These letters from 70 YA authors were originally published in a still-active blog of the same name. Though supposedly writing to themselves as teens, the contributors offer not private messages but public advice and reassurance, usually on topics of widespread interest ranging from the lighthearted--hair care and fashion choices--to abuse, bullying, bulimia, and boyfriend behavior (probably the most common theme, as only 14 of the 70 are men, and some of those are gay). Perhaps because the lineup leans heavily toward younger white writers of paranormal fantasy, there is a certain uniformity of tone and outlook that comes through in frequent references to dance and theater experiences, college plans, and traumatic memories often related to bad parents or being smart or shy, rather than racial or ethnic identity. Nonetheless, along with plenty of (now) amusing anecdotes and hard-won insights, the letters dish up proof that, as Mike Jung puts it, "time was on your side, though, and you made it!" Each letter ends with a brief biography and photo. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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ForeWord Magazine Reviews 2013 - Winter Issue

If only we knew then what we know now, everything would be different. Or would it? Most of the contributors to this terrific book of letters from young adult authors to their teenage selves come to the opposite conclusion; that is, no matter how awful, painful, awkward, or pathetic those teen years were, the adult cannot emerge except via those trying times.



Many of the seventy writers whose letters appear here are known to teens who read; they include authors of popular young adult novels, paranormal romances, graphic novels, cartoons, and fantasy series, and lesser-known writers with broad teen appeal. The expected letters reassuring the nerdy, misfit, friendless, bullied, closeted, or different teens, that life gets better are here; but so are missives for kids whose youth was spent dealing with illness, violence, disability, and being their own parent.



Sara Zarr, Ellen Hopkins, Nancy Holder, and Lauren Oliver are New York Times best-selling authors who know how to create compelling characters, but here they are themselves, addressing the selves they were. By now of course they know the score, but also that the game must be played out.



In "9 Things You Need to Know," Robin Benway states an oft-repeated theme: "All these seemingly wrong turns are actually helading you in the right direction. All those things you want to achieve are just ahead of you." In "Raising Me," Heather Davis acknowledges that having no real parent was terrible, but "someday you will know real love. The kind where words match actions. The kind that doesn't leave you hanging." Coeditor Miranda Kenneally urges her younger self to listen to herself more, recognize friendship when it's offered: "The next time a great person tells you that you matter to them--listen."



Besides letters, there are several comic strips, graphic novel-style offerings, and compiled lists. For a book that began as a Twitter conversation, the letters vary from short and succinct (but sidestep sweet), to elongated pleas for compassion and understanding clearly meant not so much for the vanished teen self of the author, but for confused or conflicted teenagers reading today. Along wit[Fri Apr 18 19:23:40 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. [Fri Apr 18 19:23:40 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. h sincere encouragement and sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious, honesty, we also get photos of the writers as teenagers--in all their goofy, once-trendy, clumsy glory; that is to say--in all their beautiful, open, hopeful, eager embraces of the life they hope to grow into.


© 2012 ForeWord Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #2
Plodding through this mostly disposable collection of blog posts is claustrophobically tiring, like watching someone else reflected in a hall of mirrors. The preponderance of young, white, female authors of commercial series fiction may explain the chatty, repetitious content and tone, larded with perishable pop-culture references. The view that blogs and social networks foster petty narcissism is reinforced here as authors reassure their teen selves that they'll be hotties, win awards, and be admitted to their first-choice colleges. Popularity, dating and looks are major themes. Writers congratulate themselves on surviving parental divorce or mean behavior from peers. Reflecting on one's teens from a vantage point of very few years (one was 18 when she "looked back") can sound self-congratulatory and pompous--asserting wisdom without having paid the dues of accumulated life experience. Tough personal stories often feel flat--the short form and high concept work against emotional depth. Scattered among the self-reverential messages are a few gems: Joseph Bruchac's account of how a personal choice became a foundation for self-esteem; Carrie Jones' refusal to be defined by stigma; Don Tate's tough love–style straight talk to his messed-up teen self. Michael Griffo, Mike Jung and Mitali Perkins also avoid cute-speak, conveying genuine feeling and the deeper complexity and contradictions of life as it's lived, not just blogged. Some gems for readers willing to get out the sieve. (Nonfiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
Plodding through this mostly disposable collection of blog posts is claustrophobically tiring, like watching someone else reflected in a hall of mirrors. The preponderance of young, white, female authors of commercial series fiction may explain the chatty, repetitious content and tone, larded with perishable pop-culture references. The view that blogs and social networks foster petty narcissism is reinforced here as authors reassure their teen selves that they'll be hotties, win awards and be admitted to their first-choice colleges. Popularity, dating and looks are major themes. Writers congratulate themselves on surviving parental divorce or mean behavior from peers. Reflecting on one's teens from a vantage point of very few years (one was 18 when she "looked back") can sound self-congratulatory and pompous--asserting wisdom without having paid the dues of accumulated life experience. Tough personal stories often feel flat--the short form and high concept work against emotional depth. Scattered among the self-reverential messages are a few gems: Joseph Bruchac's account of how a personal choice became a foundation for self-esteem; Carrie Jones' refusal to be defined by stigma; Don Tate's tough love–style straight talk to his messed-up teen self. Michael Griffo, Mike Jung and Mitali Perkins also avoid cute-speak, conveying genuine feeling and the deeper complexity and contradictions of life as it's lived, not just blogged. Some gems for readers willing to get out the sieve. (Nonfiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 May/June
This collection of letters written by children's and young adult authors was originally part of an online collection. The letters range in tone and effect, from sweet and nostalgic, to sarcastic and humorous, to scarred and haunted. The inclusion of a picture of each author during their teenage years adds interest. Teachers and librarians are just as likely to appreciate this work as teens, in part because many of the authors refer to what led them to writing. This book could be used to support the curriculum, but is more likely to be found by those searching for someone with similar life experiences. Along with other epistolary works designed to promote self-healing and hope such as It Gets Better (Dutton, 2011) and The Letter Q (Scholastic, 2012)), this book is a welcome addition. Bethany Bratney, School Library Media Specialist, Novi (Michigan) High School. RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #3

In 2010, writers Anderson and Kenneally launched a blog where authors posted letters written to themselves as teenagers; more than 70 of those entries are gathered in this book, from Tom Angleberger, Ellen Hopkins, Mitali Perkins, Dave Roman, Sara Zarr, and more. The letters are self-deprecating ("Let's just start by ripping off the Band-Aid," says Robin Benway. "You need to let your bangs grow out"), encouraging ("Go ahead and embrace life on the social fringes," advises Beth Fantaskey), and revealing ("Even though you don't drink, a certain very cruel, very callous guy is drinking--and there's nothing I can do now to stop that thing from happening," writes Carrie Jones). The breadth of emotion and experience the entries cover guarantee that almost any reader will identify with some of the situations and anxieties expressed. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 November

Gr 7 Up--Hindsight is entirely 20/20 in this compendium of letters written by young adult authors to their teenage selves. The selections include anecdotes and advice that are sad, funny, or a combination of both. Topics range from sickness and addiction to loneliness and regret to bullying and abuse. All of the letters are filled with reason and wisdom that few teens possess. Each one is accompanied by a photograph of the writer as a young adult. Interspersed throughout the book are fun Q & A spreads about celebrity crushes and first jobs. Avid readers and aspiring writers will enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of these authors. A couple of the selections written by graphic novelists are drawn in comic form. Letters are arranged by the author's last name, so teens looking for advice on a particular subject or issue will not be able to easily glean pearls of wisdom from this collection. Better organization would have made the book perfect, but overall, Dear Teen Me is a winning collection for both teens and former teens, alike.Lindsay Klemas, JM Rapport School for Career Development, Bronx, NY

[Page 120]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2012 December
If you had the chance, what would you say to the teen you used to be? Editors Anderson and Kenneally pose that question to young adult authors through their DearTeenMe blog and have compiled dozens of those letters into a book. This intriguing premise that works well as a blog stumbles a bit in print. Reading the book as a whole elicits a certain voyeuristic squeamishness since all of the authors do a good job of tapping into the raw and excruciating emotion of their teen years. The book's greatest weakness is that the letters often feel like a tease with a platitude tacked on; they provide just a glimpse into what is the heart of the authors' stories, and there is little satisfaction in reading the predictable advice (love yourself, you really are beautiful, etc.) given in hindsight. While many of the letters deal with almost caricatured teen angst, a few hint at deep pain and true horrors. There are some letters from LGBTQ authors and at least a couple from authors with disabilities, but very few authors of color are included, and this lack of diversity may limit the book's appeal.--Vikki Terrile 3Q 3P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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