Many adults remember their teenage years as a time of lessons learned, opportunities revealed, and milestones reached. But for an unfortunate few, those same years were marked with trauma, abuse, impulsive mistakes, and harsh consequences. Whereas most feared detention or video game restrictions for their transgressions, many of us faced a lifetime in prison for ours. I often think back to that time in my own life and wonder, what would I say to my 16-year-old self to prepare her for the journey that lies ahead? It's a question I'm sure most ask themselves at one point in time or another. But for the individuals in A Word to My Younger Self, the answer is marked with a heavier tone than most. As you read the letters compiled here, I challenge you to think of what a letter to your younger self would say. And once you've read through this book, ask yourself the more challenging questions: What does it say about our country that our children are subjected to the things you read here? And, more important, what can you do to help change it? - Cyntoia Brown LongA collection of personal essays from 35 "Second Lookers" - former juvenile offenders sentenced as adults in the State of Texas.