I’ve been working with a teen writer on her memoir. Her manuscript is impressive; her voice is the most authentic I’ve read all year. Her topic is tragic – growing up with a father in prison. Her hope is that her book will reach other kids like her.
She is a kid who reads a lot, but in her seventeen years, she’s never found a book about a kid with a parent in prison. Maybe she’s read one of those self-help type books, or one of those “it’s not your fault” kind of books, but nothing that hits to the core of how incarceration obliterates family relationships, or how it freezes in time the emotional state of the family. Her manuscript is unique in that way, and inspiring in a very real way.
I hope that her book is able to find a large audience. It will be hard to do since she plans to self-publish. But, I suppose, she will accomplish what she is setting out to do – put one of her books into every library in San Diego. Hopefully, kids like her will find her story.
Writers, if you ever have the opportunity to mentor a teen writer, take the leap and do it. You’ll learn a lot about how teens think and what they feel, and what kinds of topics are important to them. Most importantly, you’ll help them get their stories out there. It’s worth the time and the investment.