Friday, June 11, 2010

Get Well Now

I am almost finished reading GET WELL SOON before I leap into writing the follow-up.  I am surprised by how much I like it.  It's funny because it's very much a younger version of me.  Not that I was so much younger when I wrote it, but I was a little younger, and it really is written as me, teen-style.  So it's interesting, to say the least, to read it.  I am happy to find that I really like the book, the characters, and the writing (although of course I am finding a million ways that I would tweak.  S'all good).  Next week: the writing begins!

Ironically, next week is also when GWS will be brought up for its big, official challenge.  I don't know if I should share this because I always feel like a tool sharing "official" things I write (like resumes and cover letters when my friends want advice in that area), but here goes.  Below is the letter I sent to the superintendent of the district where my book is being challenged.  Please don't say anything negative about it or tell me to change things because it's already in his hands.  Sonya Sones gave me some tips on writing a response letter to a challenge, so I'm hoping mine is top notch.  Peep it:

Dear Dr. Sebert,

Thank you for this opportunity to express my thoughts about the recent challenge by Ann Wentworth of my novel, GET WELL SOON.  It is a novel that belongs on the shelves of Theisen Middle School’s library.  My story tackles the issue of depression with a respect and sense of humor that your capable students deserve.   The language, while colorful at times, reflects the natural dialog of teens.  I am certain that the words are no different than those heard in the halls of Theisen Middle School every day.  How do I know this?  Not only am I the author of several books for young adults, but I am also a middle school librarian.  On a daily basis, I encourage my students to find books that speak to them, inspire them, and help them in their journey to become life-long readers.  I also hope that my own books will lead to a sense of self-discovery and understanding.  

GET WELL SOON has been a blessing in my life, as I was finally able to put into words my own experience with teenage depression.  I was thrilled and honored when the National Alliance on Mental Illness awarded GET WELL SOON the Ken Book Award because I knew that would help the book get into more hands of those who need it.  And that is just what happened.  I receive letters and emails weekly from kids who are dealing with the same issues that I once had to go through. 

With GET WELL SOON, a fictional, funny account of a teenager dealing with depression in a mental hospital, teens are able to laugh, the best medicine for getting through a tough time.  More directly touching to me is the effect I have had on my own students who come to me after reading GET WELL SOON, checked out from the shelves of my library, to share their experiences with depression.  These children are comforted by the fact that they know someone who not only lived through what they are living, but made it through to become someone successful and happy.  That is what I aimed to do with writing GET WELL SOON, and that is why I believe it would be a loss to the students of Theisen Middle School to not have the book available.

I applaud your courage in confronting this book challenge and commend you for putting the students’ interests and needs first.  Please don’t let the ideas of one parent steal the freedom and dignity from all the students at your school.  I am certain you will do everything in your power to convey the message to your students that it is unacceptable for one parent to be the parent of all.

The bright light of this book challenge is that it will very likely cause more children to discover my book.  It is the icing on top of the literary cake.  As Michel de Montaigne wrote so long ago, “To forbid anything is to make us have a mind for it.”  Thank you, Ms. Wentworth, for giving so many children this mind.


Julie Halpern


proseandkahn said...

Excellent Julie. You're so right about the benefit of a challenge. People really want to see for themselves and that's a good thing. It doesn't quite take the sting away though.


Colleen said...

I LOVE the last sentence!!! Thank you controlling mother for making my novel even more popular--snap!

A fan said...

Perfect!! Being positive and not attacking is always a good thing! I agree with the others, that last line is such a great way to end the letter. Good luck (although I don't think you'll need luck) and please keep us informed.

Heather said...

I think it is a great letter. Good luck with the challenge.

Julie H said...

Thanks, everyone! I wonder if I'll hear anything today about the challenge. Or if I'll just have to google myself tomorrow to hear the results :)