jump to navigation

review: “i can’t keep my own secrets” December 17, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
1 comment so far


I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets by Smith Magazine; Larry Smith.
HarperTeen // Paperback // 192 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

One life. Six words. What’s yours? [From the product description.] This is the perfect summary for this book. Teens were challenged to write their life story in exactly six words. The stories are as varied as the teens in your life — some are sweet and playful, some are heartbreaking — all are thought-provoking.

This book is next to impossible to review critically because it is entirely user-submitted. Each of the memoirs is carefully written — it is wonderful to see how choosing the right words winds up creating a better memoir than if the teens had used more then six words. The language is simplistic, but powerful in these short sentences.

My only complaint about the book is the way that it was organized. About four memories are on each page and the memories move from light, humorous quips to serious matters — it jarred me on several occasions. I had just finished laughing out loud and then tears were threatening the back of my throat. I wish the book had been divided up by subject matter, although a helpful index is included to help readers find memoirs by search terms.

The best part about this is the interaction it provides for those who work with teenagers. I’m planning on using this book in a great way (in a book display), and hopefully I’ll get enough done on the display so I can post about it next week. But this book could easily be used in a history tie-in or creative writing workshop.

And I bet you’re wondering about my six-word memoir. Well, it wasn’t easy coming up with one (and mine doesn’t nearly match the brilliance in the book), but here it is:

Went to prom with a book.

(And I did! But only in case my date was boring, haha.)

So, what’s your memoir?

SWAN catalog
Smith Magazine