Kristin Harmel's 5 Things I'd Tell The Teen Me

Our guest today: Kristin Harmel Why we love her: She was one of the first authors we met and she was so incredibly sweet, awesome and adorable!

Her latest: The Sweetness Of Forgetting

The scoop: At thirty-six , Hope McKenna-Smith is no stranger to bad news. She lost her mother to cancer, her husband left her for a twenty-two year old, and her bank account is nearly depleted. Her own dreams of becoming a lawyer long gone, she’s running a failing family bakery on Cape Cod and raising a troubled preteen.

Now, Hope’s beloved French-born grandmother Mamie, who wowed the Cape with her fabulous pastries for more than fifty years, is drifting away into a haze of Alzheimer’s. But in a rare moment of clarity, Mamie realizes that unless she tells Hope about the past, the secrets she has held on to for so many years will soon be lost forever. Tantalizingly, she reveals mysterious snippets of a tragic history in Paris. And then, arming her with a scrawled list of names, she sends Hope to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery.

Hope’s emotional journey takes her through the bakeries of Paris and three religious traditions, all guided by Mamie’s fairy tales and the sweet tastes of home. As Hope pieces together her family’s history, she finds horrific Holocaust stories mixed with powerful testimonies of her family’s will to survive in a world gone mad. And to reunite two lovers torn apart by terror, all she’ll need is a dash of courage, and the belief that God exists everywhere, even in cake. . . .

Our thoughts: We think this is Kristin's best yet!  Run out and grab a copy today.

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win.  We'll choose the winners on Monday August 13th after 6pm PST.

Fun fact: Kristin has also interviewed a ton of cool celebrities for People Magazine!

Where to read more about Kristin: Her website, Facebook or Twitter!


1. One Day, You’ll Appreciate People Thinking You Look Younger: When I was a teenager, I looked two or three years younger than I actually was, thanks to the fact that I was (and still am!) only five feet tall. Because this was the thing that made me “different,” I worried about it all the time. I lived in constant fear of receiving crayons and a kids menu at a restaurant while on a date (which never happened, thank goodness, although it happened plenty of times when I was out with my family! Cringe!). Now, however, I’m 33 with lines creeping in, and sometimes people assume – oh, the horror! – that I’m older than I really am! So I think the lesson here isn’t just for the teen me. It’s for the current me too. It’s important to learn to feel happy where you are in life, and not to let other people’s opinions – or misconceptions – define you.

2. High School Popularity Means Nothing in the Grand Scheme of Life. NOTHING. That goes for middle school popularity too. When you’re a teenager, there’s so much pressure to fit in, to pick a group, to prove yourself. And that can destroy you on the inside. When I look back at my teen years now, I think about how much happier I would have been if I wasn’t worrying so much about the social dynamics at school. Here’s the secret no one tells you in middle school or high school: Teen popularity means nothing once you’re in your 20s and beyond. Some of the happiest, most successful, most interesting people I know now, as an adult, were the dorks in their schools. And truly, some of the most popular people from my classes over the years seem to have peaked in high school and are living somewhat unhappy lives now. So if you’re not in the "in crowd," stop worrying. If you feel different, good. Conformity doesn’t get you anywhere interesting in life. Dare to be you – and realize that when you get a bit older, you’ll spread your wings and soar in a way that most of those Populars will never know how to do.

3. Mom’s Right. About Almost Everything. Okay, so she may not have realized that the family minivan isn’t the coolest first car for a 16-year-old. Or that wearing that top with those jeans would be social suicide. But looking back, those things didn’t really matter, did they? She was right about the important stuff. So when she told me that the boy I had an unrequited crush on was a complete loser anyhow, or that it was cool to play the drums in the marching band if that’s what I wanted to do, or that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for… she was right. When she told me that having morals was far more valuable than conforming, that it was fine (and even preferable) to prefer the Beatles to Rage Against the Machine (everyone else’s favorite at the time), and that I should always follow my heart… she was right. And she’s been right ever since. The biggest mistakes I've made in life were the ones I made while deliberately ignoring her advice. In life, your mom is often your biggest cheerleader, the one who wants to see you as happy as possible. She always has your best interests at heart, and that means her advice is always worth considering.

4. Stop Hurrying to Grow Up: When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be an adult. I wanted to live my own life, make my own decisions, chart my own course. And those things would come in time. But looking back, I wish I’d paused to enjoy my teen years a bit more instead of always rushing to the next step. When you’re a grownup, you don’t get a three-month summer vacation. There’s no one to cook your meals, fold your laundry, chauffeur you from spot to spot and pay all your bills. So enjoy being a kid while it lasts. The adult freedoms – and the responsibilities that come with them – will be here before you know it. And you’ll regret not enjoying childhood a bit more while you had the chance.

5. It’s Never Too Early to Chase Your Dreams: I’ve known I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. And I wrote all the time – secretly, furtively, feeling almost foolish for dreaming that I could one day be a novelist. I started off as a journalist –when I was 16, actually! – but novel-writing still seemed to be a far-off dream. I thought I’d have to be very old before I had the maturity to write a book. But what I didn’t realize was that at 16 – or 17 – or 21 – I had a unique perspective on the world too. I should have realized I had something to give and therefore had the courage to try. So if there’s something you dream of, whether you’re 7, or 17, or 77, don’t be afraid to begin today. The future’s what you make of it, and it starts now.

Thanks Kristin! xoxo, L&L