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DEAR TEEN ME by E. Kristin Anderson


Reflections on Hard Truths, White Lies, and Miraculous Escapes

edited by E. Kristin Anderson ; Miranda Kenneally

Age Range: 12 - 18

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-936976-21-8
Publisher: Zest Books

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)