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I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061726842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061726842
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Almost 800 authors, ranging in age from 13 to 19, contributed to this thought-provoking collection of individual memoirs. Based on the interest resulting from the publication of Not Quite What I Was Planning (HarperCollins, 2008), the editors of SMITH Magazine decided to challenge teens to write the story of their lives in a few brief words. The result is a compelling compendium that will provoke laughter—"Mom just revoked my creative license"; sadness—"Grandma is dying while I'm out shopping"; and empathy and thought—"In the nest, twigs are sharp." Less than a dozen of the selections, most of which are not as good as those by "obscure" authors, are written by famous teens. The short length, relevant topics, and authentic emotions will ensure that this book will appeal to a wide variety of teens, including reluctant readers. English teachers, theater teachers, and student book-club sponsors will revel in the instructional possibilities that could spring from this anthology. It may require some initial hand selling, but ultimately this book will find broad appeal in most collections.—Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

SMITH Magazine founding editor Larry Smith has worked as an editor at Men's Journal, ESPN: The Magazine, and Might. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Popular Science, on Salon.com, and many other places. Larry lives in New York City



Rachel Fershleiser is SMITH's memoir editor and has written for the Village Voice, the New York Press, Print, and the National Post. Rachel lives in New York City.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
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See all 23 customer reviews
Who knew that 6 words could say so much.
Brittany Moore
I would recommend this book for anyone in middle school (or older).
Taylor_Reviews
Some made my day a whole lot brighter and better.
Catt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Donovan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book has received some critical acclaim, and I was a bit skeptical. I wondered how much of an impact 6 words could have.

Well, while it's still not the kind of work that can transcend age or genre preference (which is the kind of book I give 5 stars), I can definitely see this appealing to some teens.

In fact, I can see teens copying certain of the entries out onto their notebooks or putting them up in their lockers as they think "Finally -- someone else understands!"

Another strong point -- they are indexed in the back by topic, so a teen who was in fact dealing with abuse or or rejection or death would be able to find the lines that might speak to them.

They deal with typical teen issues, but seem to lean more heavily towards homosexuality and sexual dalliances or abuse than perhaps is the norm. However, having something for every teen from every experience -- from drop out to over-achiever to good girl to slut -- is part of the appeal.

A note -- though the title promises memoirs by teens "famous and obscure," there are only a small handful of famous memoirs, and the rest are quite obscure, and noted only by a first name and last initial. I think that some people will buy this book expecting more famous memoirs, while in fact, I think that the anonymity and universality of the memoirs is what will cause it to have a strong impact.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Catt on December 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Good: This is my first anthology and it totally sky rocketed through my expectations.

Some made me want to track down these people and just give them a huge hug. Some made my day a whole lot brighter and better. Some really hit the nail on the head, made me think, "Damn straight!", and give them a huge round of applause. Some just made me snort milk out my nose because they were hilarious!

But, what all of them did was make me feel less alone.

The Bad: It may be a little too short for some... but, that's okay since it's a paperback! But yeah, it flies by really quickly (I read it in under 30 minutes) and by the time you blink, you're done.

Overall: Read this book. You will love it.

Grade: A+
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Format: Paperback
Everyone has a story to tell about themselves, but few can tell their story in six short words. Six hundred authors between the ages of thirteen and nineteen have done just that. They talk about their sorrows, their fears and their hopes. Some want to talk about their gaming, food, friends and family. From best friends to love, lies and war, it's all in this book. Every life is special and unique and you're going to hear a slice of life from young people in six words, no more no less!

"Defined by numbers: age, weight, SATs."

"Loved college until I got there."

"I will be that cat lady."

"Always the friend, never the girl."

"The distance could never break us."

I loved this wide assortment of memoirs, memoirs that could just as easily have been written by adults. The variety of emotion, hope, fears and day to day topics was amazingly fun to read. This book is very light on the illustrations and photographs because the written word creates the power in this one. If you want to know about the younger generation, this book is a good starting point!
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By Bchemist on February 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Six words go further than people....those were my own six words to add to this amazing little treasure trove of six word quotes. The book can be read cover to cover in 15 minutes or less but...the words are so deep at times, it's worthy of hours of thought. A recommended read :)
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By Audrey E. Lane on February 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I use this book to help my students connect to poetry. Students wrote excellent six word memoirs which they used in a poetry slam!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Apparently, Amazon requires that reviews be at least twenty words long. Soooo......
I read this book (less than 4,000 words?) in minutes, and can't believe I paid money for it. The content was so not worth it, I can't recommend taking the time to read it even if it were free. Other than a chance to brush up on modern teen slang, abbreviations, and arcane, esoteric pop culture references ("awkward turtle", "burnbook", "fanfic", "the Sims", "aspy", "wet seal", "SVA/KVU", "PHX/PDX", "Texas Pete", etc.), this volume was altogether so NOT entertaining (although I did appreciate the reminder that "CTL-Z" is the "undo" function -- I haven't been able to find that in the help section of my e-mail text editor, so I tried this key combination, and it worked).
The "memoirs", supposedly written by 600 different people, were surprisingly -- or maybe not so surprisingly -- repetitive and redundant. Their most useful function seems to be to serve as compelling evidence in support of the argument that teenagers shouldn't write "memoirs" at all, at least partly because most of them seem to be remembering the same things.
(Consider the preceding sentences a preface to fulfill Amazon's minimum word count requirement for reviews.)
Keeping with the "six word" limitation theme, in addition to the subject line of this review, I just wanted to add:
"In other words: dull, uninteresting book."
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Format: Paperback
Link to my review: [...]

Review's text:
I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure by Larry Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of six word memoirs from teens from all over. There is no plotline or anything of that nature - just a collection of interesting bits of people's lives.

This would be a great book to use to introduce students to poetry (even though these weren't necessarily poems). Like the book suggested, it might be interesting to get students to write their own six word memoir.

This book was an easy read and one that I think many students would enjoy. After finishing the book I found myself wanting to create my own six word stories. I hope the same would be true for my students.

View all my reviews

***

What I want to Add:

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. I checked it out from the library for a class. Honestly I mostly grabbed it in an attempt to expand the variety of books that I had for an assignment. The results ended in me finding something that I really enjoyed!

The title really sums up what the book is - a collection of six word memoirs. Some of them were funny and others seemed to be more serious. It was a bit hard to tell with only six words.

I read this book in under a day. I liked trying to figure out what the deeper meaning was behind the six words on the page . Of course, as soon as I put the book down, I wrote some of my own. Once I started, I couldn't stop!

I think my future students would enjoy this book and an activity. It is different from any assignment that I ever did in high school (or middle school ... or ever in my education that I can remember....).
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