I'm so excited to be part of the Dear Teen Me Blog Tour hosted by Zest Books. This book really struck a cord with me because it's not only a collection of undeniably real letters that gave my emotions a workout but also extremely relatable. Whether or not you can relate to the specific experience, it's easy to understand the struggles these individuals faced and the significant, sometimes life-changing moments they reflect on because we've all had them. The highly personal nature of the content is the man reason I can't review it. This book is to be appreciated, not critiqued.
I was so inspired that I decided to write my own letter. There were plenty of things I would have liked to tell teen me, but one thing jumped out at me -- my boyfriend. We've been together almost nine years now, but there was a time when we parted ways, well before me got romantic, and I thought I'd never see him again. Boy was I wrong!
Dear Teen Me,
Sometimes best friends aren’t forever, and your first one won’t be. She will, however, give you a gift. No, it’s not an awesome birthday, Christmas or Happy Friday present. It’s not even a thing, and it won’t have the slightest impact on you until you’re a senior in college. Maybe even a little later.
You’re fifteen when you agree to help you’re friend move, and when you get to the house she’s moving into there are two other helpers. Her boyfriend is one of them.
You’ve heard so much about him by now that shaking hands doesn’t seem fit for the occasion. In your signature style, you tackle him in the driveway. Remember to thank him for catching you and not letting you slam face first into the gravel.
First impressions aren't always spot on. I know what they tell you, but it’s all lies. At least when you’re fifteen and full of unnecessarily harsh judgments. Yes, he’s a nerd. He’s not in the best shape. The lenses in his glasses could double as a pair of those round winter sleds. Talking is not his strong point but neither is physical prowess.
You’ll spend the next four years dancing around each other until your friend calls off the engagement and breaks his heart in the process, doing damage that won’t become apparent until much later.
It’ll be two more years before you have a chance encounter in a bookstore. (You’ll find out it wasn’t by chance when you’re 30. It was on purpose, and yes, it was all about you.) Those two guys from that move-in day years ago at your ex-best friend’s house will walk into your workplace and strike up a conversation. The one who physically caught you back then will catch you off guard by rekindling a relationship you aren’t sure you ever had. Don’t question it. Grab on and hold tight.
Some insane mid-twenties metamorphosis has taken place. Nerdy has become oddly attractive on him. He’s traded coke bottle glasses for a sleeker model. Strangest of all, his awkward interjections have evolved into wry wit and a unique brand of humor that makes you laugh until you’re overcome by hiccups.
He’ll drive hours just to hang out with you. He’ll come to your tennis matches even though he knows zero about the sport and doesn’t really like sports to start with. The price of kissing him the first time will be hundreds of ant bits on your feet and a steroid shot to the behind, but take the kiss. Your feet will heal.
You don’t admit you’re dating. Both of you agree when interrogated separately that you’re just hanging out. Eventually your friends and his will tell you the two of you are dating.
Everything will be sickeningly logical for while. It’s fitting though considering you’re both scared to death of what being together could mean. You even have a disclaimer for your first date: “If it goes horribly wrong, we pretend it never happened.” Thankfully it goes magically, fairytale right. (You even wear a skirt.)
About a year and a half into things, you’ll buy a house together and close on it in an absolutely ridiculous three days. A month later you move in together and he stays up till 3 a.m. painting your office because neither of you could look at the terrible puce green walls a second longer. By spring 2008, you bring home a dog despite the fact that he hasn’t officially consented to a pet. Within months you start to suspect he loves the dog more than you. You know better.
You’ll become the antithesis of your high school self when you make a hobby of being domestic. It pays off when he tells you your cooking is better than mom’s.
Years later the two of you will still live in that little blue house with a neurotic dog. It’s perfection with problems. Money’s tight but you want for nothing. Days are hard but home is a safe haven. You couldn’t ask for a better partner for anything and everything, especially when it comes to wrangling your OCD pup.
Whatever you do, don’t dismiss him. Life wouldn’t be the same. You wouldn’t be the same.
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.
Miranda Kenneally is the author of the contemporary YA novels Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker (just published), and Things I Can't Forget (Spring 2013). Miranda is also the co-editor, with E. Kristin Anderson, of Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves (Zest Books), and is co-creator of the Dear Teen Me website. E. Kristin Anderson, in addition to co-editing Dear Teen Me and co-creating its eponymous website, is a writer and poet who has been published in dozens of literary journals. She is also an assistant editor at Hunger Mountain for their YA and Children's section.
Check out the Dear Teen Me Blog Tour page to follow the tour. Also, check out Twitter hashtag #dearteenme 10-10:30 a.m. on Oct. 30 to chat with the creators of Dear Teen Me.