I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure has received some critical acclaim, including being named a Cybils YA Non-fiction finalist, but I was a bit skeptical. I wondered how much of an impact six 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!”
Each entry deals with typical teen issues, but seem to lean more heavily towards homosexuality, 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.
Another strong point — they are indexed in the back by topic, so a teen who was in fact dealing with abuse or rejection or death would be able to find the lines that might speak to them.
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.
Jennifer Donovan does not keep her own secrets either. She uses a lot more than six words to divulge them while blogging at Snapshot.