Lit Lemon Books

Our Teenage Years: Growing Up in a Small Town

T.J. Wray

I always tell my sister that on judgment day, when I’m standing before God and he asks me why I did this or why I did that with my life. My answer will always be, “Sir, I did the very best I could with what you gave me to work with. Which was my two hands and my little naive brain. The rest I had to improvise.”  

Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 10.22.24 PM.pngI do not read nonfiction/memoir/biography type books often but was interested in Wray’s teenage years after reading a brief summary via email from Wray. I did not do any research on the 80s or teen life during the 80s to fact check the events. I was purely curious about what life was during this time.

Within the first few pages, I loved Wray’s story. I am a native Texan, so I found the slang homey. If you are not familiar with Texan/southern speech, that is no problem. Our Teenage Years is a great quick read, it shouldn’t hold you back.

Our Teenage Years is a great memoir. The chapters are short, and the book as a whole reads more like a collection of memories than events presented in a strict chronological order. Our Teenage Years reads like an organized stream of consciousness.

Wray story is easy to follow, but not short of heartache and woe. His parents divorced when he was two years old. Wray’s father takes Wray, and his sister, Katie, and they live many years “on the run.” They settle after some time on the road when his father starts dating a woman who is abusive to the children. Though this was an unfortunate event, it leads to not only Katie but also Wray reconnecting with their mother.

Wray moves in with his mother in a small OK town., life is better but not great. His step-father isn’t the best but is better than being abused.  Wray spends the rest of his teenage years in this small town. He makes mistakes, losses jobs, is thrown out of a car, has his heart broken, burns down a house, has a child…etc. I kept turning pages because I had to know how Wray got out of the crazy situations he found himself in.

It was, indeed, a different time. Wray’s teenage years was drastically different from my own. Smoking section for teachers and students at school, a drive-in theater, and the overall shenanigans Wray and his best friend, Terry, got into was like looking into the past. I do not think you could get away with half of the things they did in today’s world.

If you are interested in memoirs, the 80s, teenage life, or just want a quick read most definitely give Our Teenage Years a read. There is a follow-up book that focuses on Wray’s life in the 90s. I plan to snag a copy.

Have you read Our Teenage Years? Do you read memoirs/nonfiction?

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