Joy Castro's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Our guest today: Joy Castro Why we love her: We love discovering a new, talented author!

Her latest: Hell or High Water 

The scoop on it: Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, finally catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length feature. While investigating her story, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in the French Quarter. As Nola’s work leads her into a violent criminal underworld, she’s forced to face disturbing truths from her own past and is confronted with the question: In the aftermath of devastation, who is responsible for rebuilding what's been broken?

Vividly rendered in razor-sharp prose, this haunting thriller is a riveting journey of trust betrayed—and the courageous struggle to rebuild. Fast-paced, atmospheric, and with a knockout twist, Hell or High Water features an unforgettable heroine as fascinating and multilayered as New Orleans itself.

Our thoughts: We were completely engrossed in this thriller & loved that it was set in New Orleans.

Giveaway: FIVE copies! We'll randomly select the winners on Sunday, July 22 after 3pm PST.

Fun Fact: She also writes memoirs, short fiction and  poetry.

Where you can read more about Joy: Twitter, Facebook and her website.


1. It was not about you.  I came from a rocky background that included domestic violence, poverty, prison, cultish fundamentalist religion, child abuse and neglect, and eleven different homes by the time I was fourteen.  When I was a kid, I thought the lack of care meant something about my worth.  It took a long time to realize otherwise.

2. A boy cannot provide the love you need.  Nor can anyone or anything else.  Not friends, not the praise of teachers, not a bottle, and not a drug.  “You save yourself or you remain unsaved,” writes Alice Sebold in her memoir Lucky, and she’s right.

3. Having a baby at 20 will not end your dreams.  It will give you new ones.  Your son’s wonderment at the world will reawaken your own, and his sweet innocence will help you see what you yourself must have been like as a child, instead of what you were told you were.  Later in life, you’ll be a foster mother to a damaged teenage girl, and you’ll know how to make a difference.

4. Not all men cheat.  Just because your father was a serial philanderer doesn’t mean that all men are.  Your husband won’t be, and even though it will be hard to trust him, it will be worth it.  You’ll have a long, happy marriage that will be both more difficult and more beautiful than anything you could have imagined.  Happy endings are real.

5. Have more fun.  Relax.   You’re right to believe in education and hard work; they’ll be your ticket out of poverty and dysfunction.  But when you work too hard for too long, life loses its joy.  Notice the beauty around you.  Take time to just be.  Hope and imagination are the most powerful forces in the world.  Believe.  Trust.

Thanks, Joy!