In more than 50 essays, young people from a wide range of backgrounds reflect on how words from literature connect with and influence their lives, goals, and personal philosophies. The essays explore topics including suffering the death of a parent, facing a life-threatening illness, letting go of perfectionism, making friends, realizing goals, and grappling with questions of faith and sexuality. Books cited range from The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby to Twilight and Lord of the Rings. Each essay includes a brief biographical sketch letting the reader know where the essay writer is today.Teachers, guidance counselors, and parents working with teens on personal essays— including for college applications—will find that the book presents a varied, intriguing group of essays to use as samples, models, and inspiration. Teachers of literature, writing, and language arts classes can also use these essays as a way to help teens explore literature—and their own responses to it—through writing. Following each essay are questions to prompt conversation, writing, and deeper consideration of the issues raised. The back matter includes tips and ideas for teachers and teens on how to use the book, including ways to use it as a jumping-off point for creating personal essays.