Here’s to my Young Adults…to my readers one and all

Know this: your uniqueness is your greatness.

My eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. A. was one of a kind. She had really short red hair, bright eyes and such an expressive face. I thought she was totally cool, though; and, she had to have been way old–like in her forties! She had us all in the palm of her hand on the first day of classes–(well, at least I can speak for myself.) How?

Because she got us. She understood something I couldn’t see at the time. To my surprise, possibly amazement, she said this.

“People. (she called us that a lot) I feel for you. I really do. You are at an age that is THE most difficult. The most challenging. There’s so much changing on the outside and so much happening the inside. It’s hard to sort it all out. Just know–I’m here for you. Okay? I’m here if you need to talk. Sometimes you just have to embrace the chaos. Trust me on this. You’ll make it through. But I don’t think you’ll look  back and say, ‘gee, I wish I was in my teens again.'”

Me, I was an excellent student. Nice face, normal weight. But, I wanted to have silky straight hair so badly I slept in beer-can-size rollers. I had to sleep on my back so not to hurt my ears. I’d wake up with a numb scalp and a stiff neck. (Luckily, my studious brain wasn’t affected.) I wanted to be pretty so badly I spent way more time putting on my eye makeup (this included blue eye shadow) than eating breakfast.

Then, one day, for no reason, I couldn’t swallow food. For two weeks at least. To this day I have no idea why. My mother tried to coax me; my dad yelled at me to cut it out. Who knows? For whatever reason, I resumed eating. Do you think something was bothering me? duh. I started counting every calorie. I had a little book for this. I’m so lucky I didn’t become anorexic; honestly, I might have gone down that path. I’m very lucky.

One of my best friends was very tall. She hunched over and slinked along the wall in the junior high hallway. My other good friend was teased and called ‘the undershirt kid’ because she wasn’t developed like big mouth Benson who should have used a crane to hold up her 40D’s.

What I want to say–is that the three of us grew up and turned out very okay. What we had then–was our uniqueness. Our individuality. We weren’t popular, weren’t cheerleaders, didn’t own the expensive trendy clothes. We saw the scene around us in the cafeteria, but we didn’t much care. We had each other even if we were on this side of geeky.

So, like Mrs. A. would have said, own who you are. Work on liking yourself. Cultivating your talents, your interests. Focus on the good. And please! Have compassion for the kids who have the need to conform. Above all, don’t hate them. They have a different path. Go ahead. Love YOUR road.

With best wishes for a year of peace and wonder.

Sandra Dreis







Doggone it!

Tango:  It’s mine!

Bear:     No, it’s mine!

Tango:  Give me that, Bear! You’re too young for this toy. It’ll warp you                       mind. Besides, the tag says not for dogs under 2 years of age.

Bear:    That makes me 14 human years. A teenager.

Tango:  I hadn’t considered that.

Bear:     Well, I’m a young adult now.


So. What books should you share with your teenagers? Let me help you out here. I will be reading ten Young Adult award-winning books every three weeks. That’s my goal. It’s part of my vegetarian diet. Off to the library, I go, seeking stories that I can curl up with and finish in one or two sittings by the fire. Cup of hot cider. A cocoa with a swirl of whipped cream. I need a chance to be a kid from time to time (actually most of the time); and, this is my time to do it.

In short, I’ll be offering my own reviews. On my blog, I’ll call it, Sandy’s Shelves.

As an author, I’m always looking to see what is brilliant, surprising, touching and meaningful out there. So here goes a few suggestions of books that kids will enjoy if they are in middle or high school.

Many readers of Young Adult fiction are adults. Feel free to enjoy my suggestions without guilt– moms and dads, grandmas and pa’s.

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen – A delightful Roy, age 12, takes you on an unusual and worthwhile adventure. Fun to read with bouncy dialogue for the middle schooler and up. Many of this author’s wacky environmentally themed romps are set in South Florida where development never seems to end and animal habitats are shrinking. Colorful characters brings lots of humor throughout. Owls rule, nobody drools.

Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech – This YA read features one of the               most heartbreakingly truthful characters since Holden Caufield. This              protagonist is female. The relationship with her country                                    grandparents is memorable, endearingly sweet, and funny. What did I            get from this novel? That sometimes very young people have to deal              with real life and death issues as they search for understanding; healing doesn’t happen on a set schedule–it takes whatever time it takes.

For more books close to my heart, tune in to my blog.

Enjoy, Sandy