When I was a teen being sexually abused and cutting to cope, thinking about suicide, and just struggling to survive, I had no voice. I didn’t even know if I’d make it. Writing and art were the only way I could talk in a real way–they became my voice, though very few people ever heard it. But I have a strong voice now–through my books, and through my Dear Teen Me letter included in the new Dear Teen Me anthology. I’m honored and excited that my letter is included!
In my letter, I drew on the trauma I endured, the overwhelming pain, and the inner strength and courage I needed to survive. If you’ve read my books Scars or Hunted, you’ll know that I write with emotion and honesty, and I don’t shy away from painful things. That’s just the way I write in my Dear Teen Me letter. I think it’s so important that teens (and adults) know that they’re not alone in their pain or the awful things they’ve experienced; when you feel like you’re alone, the pain gets stronger. But when you find out others understand, the pain lessens a little, even sometimes a lot. You see that others survived, and maybe you can, too.
I was in so much pain and despair as a teen (and had been my entire life) that I thought that’s how my life would always be. It felt so unbearable I often didn’t want to be here. Now I’m glad I survived.
It felt good to be able to talk to my teen self, and to all the other teens (and adults) out there who’ve known pain, who’ve struggled, and who need to know there’s hope. There is. It does get better! If you don’t give up, if you keep on reaching for the things you need, you’ll get a lot of them.
Here’s a small glimpse into what my Dear Teen Me letter is about:
There are a ton of YA authors in this anthology who I love and admire, and who you probably have read and enjoyed, including Ellen Hopkins, Sara Zarr, Carrie Jones, Lauren Oliver, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Melissa Walker, Mike Jung, Stephanie Kuehnert, Riley Carney, Tera Lynn Childs, and many more. Want to know all the contributing authors? Check out the link.
I like knowing what other authors I love and admire have gone through in their lives–like knowing a bit more about them–so I bet you do, too. Dear Teen Me is a great way to get a glimpse into authors’ lives. Each letter is different–written in that author’s unique voice, and specific about their lives–and each letter is fascinating! So many things you might not know otherwise. Do you know which writer lived next door to Bob Hope, and had a father who was 72 when she was born, and was adopted? Or which writer had an alcoholic father who neglected her, and made her feel rejected? Or which writer had a bully who ended up being nice to her in the end?
Sound interesting? Then enter my giveaway to win an autographed copy of Dear Teen Me (signed by 3-4 contributors), and some bookmarks!
Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves
(Zest Books, October 30, 2012, $14.99; ISBN 978-1-9369762-1-8)
edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson.
Zest Books, a leading publisher of nonfiction for young adult readers, is distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It is available wherever books are sold!