Our Teenage Years: Growing up in a small town in the 80’s by T. J. Wray

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This is the first book in the (My Life) series. This book is about two best friends growing up in their teenage years in a small town. All the wild adventures and stories from my childhood. After my parents divorced and we went on the run for 11 years. This book includes my first job, girlfriend, prom, drivers license, my first car and many other first we all did in our teenage years. But really this book is just about LIFE. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. Please enjoy
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“Excellent memoir about growing up in small town America”

Five Star Review on Amazon By LitPick Student Book Reviews

“…I want to challenge you guys for a third time…Spend your time wisely and search for your Personal Legend.”

T.J. Wray offers many snippets of advice such as this in his memoir, Our Teenage Years: Growing up in a small town in the 80’s. In this memoir, the reader discovers the teenage moments that made T.J. (the author) the adult he has become. As you bounce between T.J.’s early teen years to the choices and consequences of being 19, you learn how one person can impact another, how doing your best at all times is the most important lesson, and how memories are the greatest way to share laughter!

T.J. Wray grew up in Texas and was a teenager during the 1980s. His early teen years were riddled with harsh lessons learned from being poor and being at the mercy of unloving adults. His mid-teen years included finding a job, a purpose, a life-long best friend, love, and hard decisions about his future. Overall, this memoir shares the best memories of a man who understands the value of individual moments.

Opinion:
This memoir caught my attention immediately. I, too, grew up in a small town, so that connection was already established, but it was more than that. T.J. Wray does not soften any of the reality of his life — he tells it as it happened, including every cruel, sad, or ugly moment. Immediately upon reading the first chapter, I knew I cared about the author and was invested in knowing that things were going to turn around for him (which they do!).

I also really enjoyed the formatting of this memoir. Instead of a linear story, this reminds me of episodic fiction where several moments are placed in an order that makes sense to the overall theme in each chapter. If T.J. is discussing a life-altering decision he made at the age of 15, he may bounce forward to describe how that impacted a decision he had at 17, and then go backwards to the age of 13 to give background into why he made the decision in the first place. This pacing is never confusing and gives a flow to the memoir that is easy to follow.

I would recommend this memoir to those ages 15 and up (due to some mature content) who enjoy or are interested in reading biographical non-fiction. I would also recommend to boys within that age range who might struggle with finding a connection to a main character.

About the Author

T.J. Wray grew up in a small town. He grew up quick and got his first job at only thirteen years old. He knew people depended on him to do his job every day. So for two years he never missed a day. No matter the weather conditions, he always got the job done. He learned responsibility for his actions at a very early age. He was very active in his church and with his youth group. He learned a lot from the positive role models in his church, like his youth pastor and his Sunday school teacher. He didn’t drink or party in high school. He was responsible and went to work after school. He got his driver’s license at age fourteen and drove himself everywhere, while the other kids still rode the bus. Even though he was a teenager, he was an adult. He said in a small town people wave as they passed by and said hello as they passed on the sidewalk. He said in a small town people ‘actually shook hands’. In his teenage years, he was an avid fisherman. He once said he would “rather fish, than breath”. There’s nothing that compares to hooking a largemouth bass. He was quoted as saying, “If they don’t ride motorcycles and go fishing in heaven, I don’t want to go!”.

Nowadays, he lives in the Big City. He says nobody knows anybody, and they don’t want to. Everybody is always in a big hurry and would rather run over you then wait for one minute for you to move. No one ever seems to slow down and enjoy life, in the big city. He says he really misses life in a small town.

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