Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Homecoming Queen Now Does Cross Fit and Other Observations From a High School Reunion

Recently I attended my high school reunion and right before the event a thread began on Facebook where a student said that she would not be attending the reunion because the people with the happy smiling families posting online had been cruel to her in school and she had no desire to see them. Immediately after others started posting apologies, support, and stories they were finally comfortable enough to tell.

As we write for young adults, I thought I'd jot down a few observations from the confessions and the night:

*Some kids didn't hit anything that hard in life until after high school. One of the girls who I remembered as being a little self-absorbed confessed to being in an abusive relationship after school. Because she knew what healthy was, she was able to leave, but it took her longer to figure out what was going on. I remembered how important showing kids both what healthy looks like and what danger looks like in literature so that they are best equipped to be healthy later on.

*The bullies were being bullied. Of course this is the tired trope of bullying, but it served to be true most of the time here as people confessed being bullied by others and at home then taking it out on kids.

*A LOT more was usually going on under the surface for the kids who were struggling in school.

*Regardless of how many other experiences we've all had since high school, the ones from that time still evoke powerful reactions, and shape us more deeply than most that happen after. That is often true of the books we read at that time as well. As writers, I think that's a sacred responsibility, and I'm glad that the people I know writing for this generation are strong and good and pushing to write the best darned work they can.

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