Teen Writers Bloc

A Blog by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012

Archive for August, 2011

Sona’s Summer: The Drudgery of the Day Job

Posted by Sona Charaipotra On August - 31 - 2011

kavya 600x400 Sonas Summer: The Drudgery of the Day Job

I worked my bum off this summer. I spent countless hours at the computer, pumping out thousands of words. So I should be proud, right? Sure. Uh huh. Yup. But make way for the guilt monster. (Dhonielle, you knew it was coming.)

Because while I wrote all those thousands of words, very few of them were for my work-in-progress. Nope, instead, I was busy socking away the (not-so) big bucks. I was working on my work-work instead of my life’s work. Yes, the drudgery of the day job.

Now don’t get me wrong. Being able to earn a living through writing is pretty cool. And writing about TV is not a bad day job to have. (Just ask Jess!) But it does fatigue the creative muscle, and one can only spend so many hours on the computer, as lovely as my Mac may be.

Then there was the whole idea of the summer vacation. Ours lasted a month and took the form of our semi-annual pilgrimage to California. It’s a beautiful place and we had a great time hitting the beaches of San Diego and camping in a Yurt in Yosemite, but it meant that my beautiful little Kavicakes got a month off of daycare — a month she spent mostly following me around saying, ‘Mama, Mama’ when she wasn’t busy chasing the dog or painting herself red with fresh berries or helping her dadima fire up the tandoor in her grandparents’ awesome back yard.

So, to sum up: lots of family time + lots of work = very little progress on the WIP. But lots of fun.

This month I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. I’ve got my handy-dandy outline, I’ve talked the story though. And now I’ve given myself a hard-and-fast deadline, and I’m aiming to pump out 1,000 words a day in the next three weeks. Why? Because it’ll be my birthday. And as a reward, I get to go to the awesome Rugters One-On-One Plus conference, on my old stomping grounds, on Oct. 5. So said work-in-progress must be completed before then. I can do it. I know I can. After all, I’m the girl who can churn out, in a single sitting, 2,500 completely sensical words that tell a story. That is, when I’m getting paid for it. So that’s what I’ll do. Pretend I’m already getting paid for it.

Okay, I’ve written this down now. So please hold me to it. You know who you are.

Photo of the lovely Kavicakes by Navdeep Singh Dhillon

Debut Author Interview: New School Grad Anne Heltzel

Posted by Caela Carter On August - 29 - 2011

 Debut Author Interview: New School Grad Anne HeltzelOne boring day in the library, I was searching Amazon for books with debut authors coming out in 2011 and I came across the name Anne Heltzel. Huh, I thought, that sound familiar. Upon further inspection I discovered that this debut author was not only a graduate of our fantastic program at New School, but also attended my alma matre, The University of Notre Dame (Go Irish!). It dawned on me that I had actually met Anne Heltzel at ND (through my musical-comedy writing brother, Danny Carter) long before any of us were writers. I caught up with Anne to congratulate her on Circle Nine which is debuting in September, and to catch up with her on life post-ND and post-New School.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer.

I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember, but I always assumed it was unattainable as a career. I’ve always been passionate about books (and in particular, what books do for kids). I wrote for myself, in local contests, and later for undergrad electives. I did it because it brought me all kinds of enjoyment, but there are so many things that seem impossible when you grow up in a small Midwestern community. (Namely: creative/impractical careers.) I imagine it would have been different had I grown up in New York and been exposed to professional writers on a regular basis as a kid. (Not better, just different.)

 Debut Author Interview: New School Grad Anne HeltzelI didn’t really do anything much post-college before “officially” becoming a writer. Once I decided to work toward my MFA, there was never a moment when becoming a published author was not the final goal. But I did random filler things to make money while in grad school. I had a bizarre experience working for a fitness company (where I was lawsuit-worthy harassed, by a Brazilian jiu jitsu master). I babysat every day after work for two years for a family I am still close to. (They now live in Paris, and I’m visiting them in the fall!). I was an assistant to a literary agent; I was an editorial assistant; I tutored algebra and geometry and writing on the weekends; and I moved to India for a year to travel and write. I also sold old clothes at Beacon’s Closet or on eBay when short of cash, and I came frighteningly close to nude modeling for a painter and, on a separate occasion, a photographer. (In the end I just couldn’t do it. I mean, I was trying to write children’s books, for God’s sake.) Right now, I’m working as an Associate Editor at Penguin.

Can you give us a quick synopsis of Circle Nine? How did you come up with the concept for the book?

Circle Nine is the story of Abby, a girl who loses her entire identity following a traumatic incident. She wakes up near a burning building next to Sam, a guy who says he knows who she is. She trusts him because she has no memories and therefore no choice. They have an intense romantic relationship that, to Abby, seems perfect…until memories of her past slowly begin seeping through the façade of the life she and Sam have built. Then she realizes that the things she thought were perfect have a sort of sinister underbelly. She has to figure out who she is and who Sam is and make some difficult choices about moving forward.

This book was so weird to write. It started as a story about a girl who meets a guitar-playing guy in the subway, and she gets off at his stop and realizes he’s from a totally different world. Aside from the obvious (though not purposeful) Harry Potter-rip-off aspect, it sounds way better than Circle Nine, right? Anyway, I kept writing it and writing it and it just didn’t feel right. Then this random voice popped into my head in the form of a sentence, so I wrote it down. That was the voice that felt right, so I scrapped 100+ pages and started over. Once I had the voice, I wrote the story in two months. I dreamed about it all the time. I was in a very difficult emotional place, and I think that’s where the darkness that permeates the book came from. So then I gave it to my agent (Adams Literary, whom I’d signed based on a different project) just before Christmas in 2009. Josh called me just after Christmas to tell me he’d stayed up all night reading the book, and he took it on submission right away. It sold a couple of weeks later in early 2010 to Hilary van Dusen at Candlewick. The book is coming out in September, so it actually sold a full 20 months prior to publication.

We notice that a lot of the reviews call Circle Nine a “psychological thriller.” Do you agree with this categorization? Did you realize that’s what you were writing while you were writing it?

Yes, I guess it’s a psychological thriller. (Heavy on the psychological, light on the thriller) No, I had no idea what I was writing. I just went with it. The voice had me so tight in its clutches that (this is going to sound insane and melodramatic, sorry!) it felt like Abby was telling me the story and I was just transcribing. It was the weirdest writing experience I’ve ever had, and it has not happened to me again since, alas!

What’s your writing process?

When I was writing full-time, my typical day looked like this:
-Wake up obscenely late. (Say 10 or 11.) Make coffee. Make eggs! Or maybe go to the bakery for a muffin. Read the news. Answer emails (if by some miracle my unreliable Indian internet was working). Dawdle. Open Word Doc. Stare at previous day’s writing. Write furiously for an hour or five, depending on level of inspiration. (Write 5 pages minimum, sometimes up to 20.) Go to gym? Or maybe just watch movie. Read book. Make dinner. Die of boredom. Even though I was in India, I lacked a community of fellow writers (at least for the first six months or so), and I felt lonely and claustrophobic. It was difficult. Amazing, but difficult.

Now I’m working full-time, so writing is relegated to the occasional weekday morning (at Café Regular across the street from my Brooklyn apartment) or weekend afternoon/evening. But I have writer-friends to hang out with, so writing has become a community-oriented experience for me. I usually write in cafes or bars in Brooklyn – anywhere out of the apartment! My inspiration can come from anywhere – any weird detail I notice during the day (like a burned-out jeep I noticed on the street, or a quirky exchange I had with my barista). I use basically anything that moves me emotionally, EXCEPT my personal relationships. Those are sacred, and I never want the people who are close to me to feel exploited. Okay, I broke that rule maybe once in Circle Nine. But never again. And I’m not telling you where.

What has your path to publication been like?

It’s been long and ever-intriguing! I suppose the most surprising part has been dealing with the public aspects of this private craft. Writing is so personal – and then there’s your manuscript in the world, for anyone to comment on. So far, people’s reactions (good and bad) have been much stronger than I anticipated. In terms of The New School: some faculty members were particularly supportive when I was a student there. Tor Seidler was emotionally supportive, because he seemed to believe in my talent. And David Levithan was the first to suggest, via my agent, that I try a YA voice — up to that point I’d been focusing on MG — and that paid off in a big way.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? What advice would you yourself give aspiring authors?

I once read or heard somewhere that 80% of getting published is finishing the manuscript. I think there’s a lot of other stuff that goes into it, but knowing that a large part of writing is sheer work – and that you just have to sit down and do it, much like any other difficult task – has been somehow comforting.

My advice: care about your novel. If you’re emotionally attached to your subject matter, it will automatically seem more authentic and powerful.

206452 194729600564419 190479587656087 434039 7339124 n 200x300 Debut Author Interview: New School Grad Anne HeltzelWhat was your favorite book when you were a teenager? What are you reading now?

When I was a teenager, I was in love with This Side of Paradise by Fitzgerald. When I was extremely young, I loved Little Brother and Little Sister by The Brothers Grimm. Now I like to skip around. I’m reading Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. (So far so good! The writing is beautiful.) And I’ve been flipping through Nine Stories (Salinger) and some other short story collections while I’m on the train. I have a lot of reading to do for work, so personal reading is a rare and treasured experience.

What’s next for you writing-wise (and otherwise!)?

I’m writing a dark, grounded YA for Candlewick, and I have a thriller signed up with Penguin under a pseudonym. They’ll both be out in 2013. I think I might like to give fantastical Middle Grade another try after that. Otherwise, who knows? As long as my writing and my relationships continue to grow, I am not averse to adventure and change. Maybe more travel! I just want to live a good story. =)

Do you believe in being part of a “bloc” of writers? Are critique groups and writing communities helpful to you?

I do believe in the wonders of being a part of a supportive writing community. I don’t personally belong to any writing groups, mostly because of my day job – I read and critique manuscripts all day long, and I’m not sure I could take on any extra editorial-esque endeavors right now. Plus, I’m private and don’t like many people to read my writing prior to completion of a semi-respectable draft. But I do have one friend whom I exchange with on occasion, and I frequently write in close proximity to a bunch of amazing, Brooklyn-based writers (many of whom I met through the editing world). Going through the process with a bunch of other like-minded people helps a lot. And then when the successes (and setbacks) come around, it’s great to have people in your life who really get it.

Thanks so much for stopping by TWB, Anne! Readers: be on the lookout for anneheltzel.com coming soon!

Jane’s Summer Was Spent Reading, Not Writing

Posted by Jane Moon On August - 24 - 2011

bqcover1 Janes Summer Was Spent Reading, Not WritingI thought that once I quit my day job, it would be easy to just sit and spend all my time writing. I expected to sit in front of my laptop every day and produce a completed novel before the end of summer. I was wrong. I’m disappointed to say I’ve made little progress on my story. But one good thing that came out of this is that the time I should have spent writing was used for reading some great books!

Two of my favorites are:

Bumped by Megan McCafferty. Melody and Harmony meet for the first time at the age of sixteen. They live in a society where a virus renders anyone over the age of 18 infertile, so teenagers who can get pregnant are a hot commodity. Melody is one of those hot commodities and has signed a lucrative contract with a couple to have their baby. Harmony, however, was raised in a community that taught to believe that sex and children should come after marriage. A result of mistaken identities have the twins questioning if what they were taught is actually what they believe.

I thought Megan McCafferty did a great job of showing two different perspectives as she alternated the chapters between Melody and Harmony. I also loved the twist McCafferty made by taking an issue from current times, teen pregnancy, and turning it into a situation that could help maintain the human population,

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. A plane filled with contestants for the Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant crash lands on a deserted island. How will they survive? Will they be able to keep their hair frizz-free until help arrives? Will they be found in time to compete in the pageant?

Libba Bray did a fantastic job weaving suspense and humor (as well as advertisements from the Corporation, the official sponsors of the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant) into a story that is definitely not the female version of Lord of the Flies.

On a fun note, one of our former workshop teachers sent out an announcement for MFA students to be photographed for the cover of Poets & Writers magazine. I decided to go to the photo shoot and will appear with 20 other MFA students in the September/October issue, which will focus on MFA programs. There’s also going to be a slideshow on www.pw.org, where each student gives a brief account about their search for the right MFA program. The issue will be come out on August 15, so be sure to look for me!

Photo courtesy of Scholastic

The Sequel Has Arrived: Christine Johnson’s NOCTURE!

Posted by Dhonielle Clayton On August - 23 - 2011

 The Sequel Has Arrived: Christine Johnsons NOCTURE!I am peeking my head out of the sand to scream that a highly anticipated sequel was released today: Christine Johnson’s NOCTURNE.

This book picks up after the wonderful CLAIRE DE LUNE, dropping us back into Claire’s story. For those of you who haven’t read the first one, run to your nearest independent bookstore and grab it. Here’s a quick synopsis, courtesy of our favorite friends at Amazon.com:

“Torn between two destinies…

Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and her crush keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she’s the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: She’s a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she finds her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart. Burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, she will be forced to make a choice that will change her life forever. . . .”

If I had to pick a paranormal creature to be transformed into it would be a werewolf above all others. I’m not interested in sucking people’s blood, being a tricksy fairy, or a brooding and depressed fallen angel (and I can’t comment on being a shape-shifter). Out of them all, it would most definitely be a werewolf…and, more specifically, a wolf as a part of Christine Johnson’s female-centric mythos in her CLAIRE DE LUNE books.

So get ready to continue the journey in the sequel, NOCTURE. Again, our friends at Amazon synthesize the book well: “Claire couldn’t be happier that her life has finally settled down. She’s been fully initiated into her family’s pack of female werewolves, her best friend Emily is back in town, and she’s finally allowed to be with Matthew, the human love of her life. But when a new girl arrives, everything starts to unravel. Not only is the intruder getting close to Claire’s best friend and boyfriend, but she may also know more about Claire than she’s letting on. If Claire’s secret gets out it breaks all the rules of the pack, and the consequences may be more than Claire can handle….

Stay tuned for a forthcoming interview with the wonderful writer!

Photo Credit: Simon Pulse

Corey Recovers from Revisions and Celebrates New Projects, New Agent

Posted by Corey Haydu On August - 22 - 2011

angst1 Corey Recovers from Revisions and Celebrates New Projects, New AgentScene: Corey is holed up at Red Horse Café and can’t stop squirming. She crosses her legs. She uncrosses them. She crosses them again. She is sweating. She is clicking through Scrivener, desperately trying to see the Big Picture of her novel. She is chugging a mocha. She is rubbing her forehead. She is G-chatting and tweeting about how her revision might kill her. She is sighing. Audibly. A lot. It is kinda embarrassing.

This is pretty much how May, June and the first week of July looked for me.

Right after school ended, I was lucky enough to sign with my new agent — the fabulous, supportive, and totally genius note-giver, Victoria Marini. Victoria won me over with her unbelievable work ethic, her energy and enthusiasm, and her really impressive, insightful, and comprehensive notes on my first novel. It needed a lot of work, and she knew exactly how to lead me in the right direction.

That’s the good news. Or even the great news.

The bad news: the revision required a PLOT. I can’t think of a harder thing to tackle than a revision that requires a re-vamping of the novel’s actual plot. I knew where to focus, what stories to bring forward, which to let go of, where to put the majority of my focus. But in a plot revision you can’t just change a few chapters. You have to re-work almost Every. Single. Chapter.

I spent a month re-writing my first novel, and then another 3 weeks doing some (less painstaking but still challenging) revisions on my second novel. Then I collapsed and shorted out. My revisions took such intense focus that I’d forgotten to start something new. I even thought it was possible that I would forget how to start a new book.

I had hoped to complete a third novel this summer. That is not going to happen.


I am re-learning how to write a first draft. I am reminding myself to save the scrutiny and judgment for later. I am remembering what it feels like to just follow a book and let it take me where it wants to go. I am also trying to learn from my mistakes and not forget to have a plot.

Now it’s August and two new projects are starting to take shape. A third, collaborative project is just getting started. And I am doing my best to get back into my thousand-words-a-day-or-die routine. Life after revisions has made me take some time to sit back and reflect and brainstorm and be gentle with myself. But now it is time to re-commit to the grind. My brain has recovered from the agony/ecstasy of revising my first two novels, and it is fully ready to enjoy writing my next few books.

Same café, same mocha next to me. New ideas and new understandings of my craft.

Can’t wait for August 30th and the start of school!

Photo: InkyGirl.com

For Steven, Summer 2011 = Writer’s Block

Posted by Steven Salvatore Shaw On August - 19 - 2011

steven 225x300 For Steven, Summer 2011 = Writer’s BlockBrick walls don’t even begin to describe my creativity this summer. It’s more like a brick wall with a steel foundation solidified in a thick, solid layer of concrete with nice inlaid stonework over top. And even if my imagination were to break through this wall, I realized I’d have to climb a 200-story staircase in order to get anywhere. So most of the time I ended up staring at my computer screen blankly, watching the blinking cursor on an empty white page praying for an idea.

My goal this summer was to finish my novel. Yeah, didn’t happen. And up until last week, I had absolutely no idea how I was going to wrap up the last quarter of it. I know how I want it to end, and I have it all mapped out, so it’s not a matter of not knowing what’s going to happen. My problem is figuring out how to end it in a quick, fast-paced manner. I need it to be punchy and move along, and I’m a very long-winded writer, so I think the thought of speeding up the ending frightened the hell out of me. I just couldn’t write.

Then, while I was on vacation last week, I had a break-through. I was on a beach and an idea just popped into my mind while I was listening to my iPod and I didn’t have a notebook on me (I know, how dare I not have a notebook!?) so I just started typing away on the small little iPod. I don’t know how much I wrote, but I just kept going until I had finished a chapter!

There’s still some time left in August, so maybe I can meet my own personal goal of finishing a draft by August 31st and starting to send it out to agents. I do know that I have to get used to the idea that I won’t be going back to school in a few weeks. This is it for me…I’m a baby bird being pushed out of its nest. I’m not quite sure I’m ready to fly, but I guess I have no choice.

I have to push through.

Photo: Steven Salvatore Shaw

Book Review: My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On August - 17 - 2011

my favorite band does not exist Book Review: My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. JeschonekDo you want to be surprised by something weird? If you answered “yes,” then you’ll love My Favorite Band Does Not Exist, out last month from Clarion Books (full disclosure, my publisher). Author Robert T. Jeschonek isn’t trying to be realistic here. Instead, he gleefully gives his characters outrageous names like Idea Deity (whose parents are named Vengeful and Loving) and Reacher Mirage. But nothing comes off as too clever—every weird, impossible character and event fits perfectly into the world Jeschonek has created. Of course there’s a character with a face tattooed on the back of her head. Why wouldn’t there be?

Idea has created a fake band and enjoys creating buzz for it by posting about it on the Internet. But now other people are selling the band’s merchandise and even selling concert tickets. How dare people profit off Idea’s idea! Meanwhile, Reacher can’t understand how somebody is posting all sorts of information on the Internet about his secret band. Due to a crippling fear of failure, he’s not ready to go public yet, and someone is trying to force him out! While stewing over these unexplained happenings, Idea and Reacher are both reading the same terrible fantasy novel, Fireskull’s Revenant (the cover of which appears on the back of the book).

I have to admit that I wished the selections from Fireskull’s Revenant, though already short, had been a little shorter. But that’s a minor complaint. It’s rare for someone to come up with something totally original that’s weird enough to surprise me and yet actually makes sense. I don’t know if this is because people aren’t writing those books, or because publishers are afraid to give them a try. Whatever the reason, I think we don’t see enough weird and wonderful books. If you think so, too, you’ll appreciate this one.

Cover Image Courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Caela’s Big Summer News!

Posted by Caela Carter On August - 15 - 2011

 Caelas Big Summer News!I really never thought it would happen.

I was sitting in the school library where I work. It was one of the last days of June and the space was hot, dusty and kid-less.  It was the kind of day where you check the clock on your phone after you shelve each book and can’t wait to be released.

During one of these checks, I had a message from my awesome agent, Kate McKean, and there it was, plain as day on my voicemail: “Hi Caela, it’s Kate McKean. I have good news. We have an offer.”

And I thought, No way! Because, like I said, I really never thought it would happen. But I also burst into tears of relief and joy and dreams-fulfilled because I suppose my body was ready to receive the news.

The next few days were a flurry of greater and greater news–the book eventually went to auction and it was very exciting because every day someone might be telling me how much she loved my book and the someones were not just regular people but editors who actually know what they’re talking about. But the most magical moment was in that hot lonely library when I knew the ultimate fact: I am going to be a published author.

Here’s the thing though: when you get fantastic news, always attempt to be in some place other than a library. As I made phone calls to my boyfriend and parents and life-long friends, they all yelped for joy but I had to whisper! It was pure torture.

I kept pinching myself. I would wake up and remind myself “it really happened.” A month an a half later, it still seems impossible, but yes, it really happened.  Me, Him, Them and It will be published by Bloomsbury in 2013. I’ll be working with editor Michelle Nagler, which is really exciting. Here’s the announcement from Publishers Marketplace:

Caela Carter’s Me, Him, Them And It, a story about teen pregnancy, ticking clocks, the families you are born with and the families you make, to Michelle Nagler at Bloomsbury, at auction, in a two book deal, by Kate McKean at the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency.

Since this announcement, I’ve gone back to not believing it and attempting to get my butt in the chair and get to work.  My goal for August is to finish a draft of my middle grade project before our classes start up again. I’m also working on flushing out some synopsis for possible second books as part of that two-book deal (so exciting, so scary, so many feelings!) and completely re-vamping my most recent YA idea, The Fat Girl Sings.

It’s been a busy and exciting summer, but the fall looks even busier on the horizon. I’m ready to get back into the world of classes, deadlines, and seeing my TWB crew regularly!

Amy Finishes Her Novel and Starts the Query Process

Posted by Amy Ewing On August - 12 - 2011

sb10069767o 0014 300x245 Amy Finishes Her Novel and Starts the Query ProcessI feel a great sense of accomplishment mixed with panic. I’ve completed my YA fantasy novel, and now, this is the time when all the hard work is tested — when the waiting game begins. I am starting the agent query part of the writing journey.

Being ignored, rejected, and criticized is all part of the querying process, and, let’s be honest, it’s not a particularly fun prospect. But I am proud of what I’ve achieved this summer. My biggest fear was not actually finishing this book and querying, it was the dreaded question of what will I write next?

True, this book is part of a larger story, but I needed to write something different. And there is no point in writing a second book if no one reads the first. But I had lived with this girl, with my protagonist, for so long, that it felt strange to think of being in someone else’s head.

But thanks to a few choice in-class writing assignments from Susan Van Metre’s seminar class, I had one spunky character and one creepy scene to get my imagination started. Now I have not one, but two new story ideas to work on this fall, and let’s face it, I’m going to need them. Because if there’s one thing that is sure to distract me from the hard realities of life, it’s getting lost in a really good story.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Alyson Gerber Returns to Middle School

Posted by Alyson Gerber On August - 10 - 2011

 Alyson Gerber Returns to Middle SchoolI’ve spent most of this summer writing, reading and thinking about middle grade books. A few weeks ago, I did a tour of Barnes & Noble, Books of Wonder and The Strand. I wanted to be immersed in the genre, curious to hear from booksellers about which contemporary covers kids were gravitating toward and why. I ended up with a stack of 7 to 13 Readers in my apartment and a whole new perspective on writing for this age group.

Although so far most of my time at The New School has been dedicated to teen literature, right now, something about working on a middle grade novel feels right. Maybe it’s because middle school was arguably the hardest time in my life. I was confined to a clunky, suffocating back brace for sixth, seventh and eighth grades, 23-hours a day, to fix the scoliosis I inherited from my mother. Or maybe it’s something else entirely.

Over the weekend, I was having a drink with a friend at The Standard when I spotted Arlen Galloway playing ping pong across the bar. I spent years standing next to him in alphabetical order (Galloway, Gerber) at Christmas concerts, school assemblies and of course on picture day. We hadn’t seen each other in 14 years, since our eighth grade graduation, but for a moment, I remembered exactly how it felt to be in middle school ― nervous and completely insecure.

At 12-years-old, the only thing that made me feel okay about my awkwardness was books, and the fictional characters, that helped me see I wasn’t alone. Even now, on the brink of my twenty-seventh birthday, I sometimes feel like nothing has changed. I’m still that same girl (sans back brace), unsure but completely curious as I try to make sense of it all.

pixel Alyson Gerber Returns to Middle School

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