Emily Arsenault's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Our guest today: Emily Arsenault Why we love her: Her books are captivating-we can't get anything else done once we crack it open!

Her latest: Miss Me When I'm Gone

The scoop: Author Gretchen Waters made a name for herself with her bestseller Tammyland—a memoir about her divorce and her admiration for country music icons Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton that was praised as a "honky-tonk Eat, Pray, Love." But her writing career is cut abruptly short when she dies from a fall down a set of stone library steps. It is a tragic accident and no one suspects foul play, certainly not Gretchen's best friend from college, Jamie, who's been named the late author's literary executor.

But there's an unfinished manuscript Gretchen left behind that is much darker than Tammyland: a book ostensibly about male country musicians yet centered on a murder in Gretchen's family that haunted her childhood. In its pages, Gretchen seems to be speaking to Jamie from beyond the grave—suggesting her death was no accident . . . and that Jamie must piece together the story someone would kill to keep untold.

Our thoughts: Beautifully written-we think you'll love this one.  Throw a copy in your suitcase and relax with it by the pool.

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose the winners on Sunday, August 5th after 6pm PST.

Fun fact: Emily and her husband served in the Peace Corps together in South Africa!

Where to read more about Emily: her website, or Facebook.


1. Stop trying to write confessional poetry. You are sixteen years old. You have nothing to confess. Put down the pen, close the notebook, and go read a good book or have a cookie or something. You’re embarrassing yourself.

2. Talk to your grandmother more. Ask her about her life. Your grandmother lives just up the street from you, but you are so focused on personal dramas and grades and getting into a fancy college that you rarely have real conversations with her. During your first semester of college, she’ll pass away and they’ll bury her in Arlington National Cemetery because she was an army nurse in WWII. They’ll mention in the eulogy that the ship she served on was called the Mercy. It’ll dawn on you that you never knew that before. You never asked. Over the next few months and years, you’ll think of about a hundred more questions you wish you’d asked. For this you will feel very sad and very foolish.

3.  You know who your real friends are. Pay more attention to treating them well than obtaining newer, “cooler” ones. Your friends put up with a lot from you. You don’t always deserve it.  Do you remember their birthdays? Do you make a real effort to cheer them up when they feel down or stressed? Bring them chicken soup when they’re sick? Not so often? You might try a little bit harder

4.  Quit obsessing about grades. Yes, doing well in school is important, but grades are relatively meaningless symbols on a piece of paper, not assessments of your worth as a person. To put it in perspective: a few years from now you’ll be helping your mother clean her house and you’ll toss those precious report cards of yours in a Dumpster without even glancing at them.

5. Yes, you’re weird. The sooner you own it, the happier you’ll be. You’re not fooling anyone pretending to like the music, books, and movies you think you’re supposed to like. You’re too much of a nerd for anyone to notice if you’re wearing Gap clothes or not, so why not spend that money instead on a harmonica or The Collected Plays of Edward Albee or a trip to Graceland? And no, not everyone will “get” your sense of humor, but always biting your tongue makes you feel invisible and miserable.

Thanks Emily! xoxo, L&L