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A Thorny Bouquet

The letter below is part of an ongoing series featuring letters from authors to their teen selves. If you're a published author who'd like to participate in this series, we'd love to have you. Just click here and let us know you're interested. Today's guest is Wendelin Van Draanen, author of The Peach Rebellion, which comes out on Tuesday.


Dear Teenage Wendelin,

Is it unfair of me to not just jump in and say, It’s all going to be all right…? I’m tempted to because I know you want to hear it, need to believe it. But it would actually be unfair for me to fast-forward to that. It would be too simplistic to wrap such a pretty bow around your life, because inside the whole of it, there’s a lot to unpack.

I’m also not going to chronicle what lies ahead for you. There are swamps and cliffs and rodents of unusual size, but—as you’ll begin to see—they exist for everyone, so never feel alone in that!

Wendelin as a teenager

Conversely, there will also be meadows and magical moonrises, and hope. And those are the things you must learn to hold in your heart. Especially the hope.

What I will tell you is that every experience—good or bad—will bring you wisdom. A seed of it here, another there, and as you move through your life, that wisdom will be watered by learning and compassion, and will grow and bloom and then…

You’ll collect the seeds from those blooms and scatter them around the world. Paradoxically, it’s the hard parts of life that will yield the prettiest flowers—the ones other teens—teens just like you are now—will collect and hold on to. Blooms that will set free the fragrance of love, hope, and understanding.

So as life unfolds, remember to learn from every experience, even if it’s just about how to be, or how not to be. And, Wendelin? It’s time to learn to believe in yourself, to forgive your shortcomings, your mistakes. Collect that bouquet of experience and understanding, and know that it’s the thorns that will make you who you become.

Appreciate them, too.

Now, get on with it, okay? Life awaits. Dream big, work hard, don’t give up. We’ve got so much to do!



About The Author: Wendelin Van Draanen was a classroom teacher for many years before turning to writing full-time. She lives in Central California with her husband. Her latest novel, The Peach Rebellion, comes out on Tuesday.


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