Yona Zeldis McDonough's 5 Things I'd tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Yona Zeldis McDonough Why we love her: In a nutshell, she writes novels that excite us.

Her latest: A Wedding in Great Neck

The scoop on it: An effervescent yet deep story about family and the ways in which the powerful ties that bind us can also cut us off and keep us apart. Taking place in a single day, A Wedding In Great Neck follows the Silverstein clan as they come together for nuptials of the youngest daughter, Angelica. Angelica is the family’s golden girl—intelligent, beautiful and accomplished, she is both everyone’s favorite, and the object of much envy and resentment.  She has planned a fairy tale wedding to her Israeli fiancé—a former fighter pilot—and is determined to have everything go perfectly.  But things do not go according to plan, and there are complications, dramas and confrontations at every turn.

Our thoughts: There's nothing like a wedding to bring out the best kind of family drama. McDonough nails it in this entertaining novel that unfolds over the course of just one day (love that!).

Giveaway: FIVE copies. Leave a comment to be entered to win and we'll select the winners after 3pm PST on Monday, October 22nd.

Fun fact: She also writes non-fiction and children's books. C'mon Yona, you're just making us all look bad here! :)

Where you can read more about Yona: Her website.


1. Stop worrying about your nose/hair/eyes/thighs etc.  Whether you know it or not, you are at the peak of your physical beauty, right here, right now.  Don’t spend a single second of your precious youth thinking you are insufficient because you don’t resemble a highly made-up, superbly lit, airbrushed image of a model.  Don’t just enjoy, but revel in the loveliness that is you.

2. Learn to save money.  I know, it’s the last thing you want to think about.  But it’s a great habit to develop early and it will last you throughout your life.  Sure it’s fun to spend your allowance or hard-earned cash on pizza and prom dresses, but make sure you tuck a little aside on a regular basis. Set up a saving account and make a pact with yourself not to touch it until you are at least eighteen, or even twenty-one if you can stand it.  You’d be surprised with what you can accomplish with a little fiscal willpower. And when you want to pay for a car or a trip to Europe, you’ll have your stash all ready and waiting.

3.  Explore your creative side to the fullest.  Remember when you were a little kid? You were unafraid to draw, paint, dance, sing and engage in just about any other artistic pursuit you could.  But as we grow older, we grow critical of our efforts, and we gradually lose the habit of creativity. Don’t.  Even if you aren’t an artist/writer/performer, give yourself the gift of creative expression.  Keep a journal or diary. Write poetry.  Take a dance class or sit on the beach with a sketchpad and pencil.  Don’t surrender the joy of expressing yourself through a variety of creative outlets—ever.

4. Get over the mean girl stuff.  Let me tell you a secret: mean girls are insecure girls.  Confident girls have the generosity to be kind and openhearted. Don’t build yourself up by tearing someone else down; it puts you in a bad light.  Focus on your own talents, abilities, goals and dreams; you won’t have the time—or the need—to be a mean girl.

5.  Give back.  By this I mean step outside your world and your concerns and do some small thing to help someone else.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, daycare center or animal shelter.  Help clean up a park or work in a community garden. Adolescence is a particularly fraught time and it’s easy to get caught up in your own life: school, friends, and boys. But when you can step back and help someone else, it puts your own problems in perspective and they may not seem as big or daunting any more.  Added bonus: helping someone else gives you a sense of satisfaction and happiness that just won’t quit—promise!

Thanks, Yona! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

Photo credit: Keith Price