Hitting the Feels

If you have been a long-time reader, you probably know my young adult books are clean and age-appropriate. Still, sometimes I like to tackle difficult life situations like death, divorce, bullying, and the like. I try to write these topics sensitively, so the reader feels encouraged and empowered. That can be difficult in a world where people are inundated with terrible news almost hourly.

When I started writing The Demolition Trilogy, I wanted to bring light to America’s broken foster care system. I wanted to show how difficult it is for children stuck in a system of rotating doors, rejection, and confusion. Of course, there are thousands of happy adoption and fostering stories every day, but there are cases that slip so far through the cracks, the children are left homeless and destroyed.

In The Demolition Project, I set out to tell one of those hopeless stories. Charlotte is so broken she’s determined to bring down anyone who has it better, even if it means losing herself in the process. Much of the research for this story came through interviews with foster families and social workers who have seen their fair share of sad cases.

In The Demolition Daze, Simon is faced with planning his future when he’s not even sure he’ll have a place to live once he turns eighteen and ages out of the system. I also wanted to illustrate the dichotomy of the rich kid, poor kid. Simon discovers the hard way that even money can’t fix your problems.

And in the final book, The Demolition Realization, I wanted to show a bully’s redemption arc. I actually wrote this book years ago as a stand-alone novel but realized it worked well with the themes from The Demolition series. Wyatt is a bully, maybe not the worst ever, but certainly, he is a jerk who doesn’t deserve much sympathy. As usual, there is more to his story, deep-seated pain that drives his behavior, however brutal it may be.

So, why write books that make people cry? Why illustrate the worst parts of human nature? It’s important. At least, I think it is. How can we be kind and help people if we don’t understand them? How can we grow as humans if we don’t ponder and evaluate the human condition, human nature, and the massive influence of society?

Last week I spoke about how The Yellow Note helped some of my readers overcome depression (or got the ball rolling, at least), and this series is no different. In fact, I received even more messages about Charlotte’s story than I did The Yellow Note. Charlotte was a lot to handle, a big pill to swallow, but she had a thread of sympathy that reminded people to seek the best in each other, especially when you don’t know the driving force behind someone’s behavior.

In short, kindness, my friends, is what I’m looking for. And I hope you find just a little in my books.

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