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  • Melanie

Great Reads That Tackle Tough Issues

My three fiction books tackle important social problems, and each do so in a way that is age appropriate and helps make sense of the world. In each of my books, the story that takes center stage engages its readers while it helps them process complex issues. We all can relate to the need to find our own voice, the tenderness of first love, new friendships, parents and siblings, and divisive but essential topics like guns in schools. The way to make bigger issues like these instantly relatable to readers comes from the characters ‘authenticity.

To write strong characters I must first deepy understand their motivations, their likes and dislikes, their flaws and their strengths. Only then do I go into the real world to talk to others who live similar experiences and breathe realism using description, dialogue, and scene into the two-dimensional images I have conjured. While ultimately my characters’ actions draw from a well of strength, in coming-of-age fiction, the protagonists do not start out with these traits BUT grow into them.

For 15-year-old Roman who is the main character in Spoken, at first his "shattered" world is all about him and what he has lost by having to move from a mansion in the Hollywood Hills to his grandparents' Midwestern home. As he experiences new friendships and discovers he has a lot to say through spoken word poetry, he finds joy in attaining what he needs in the world, rather than what he initially thought he wanted from it.

Author David Aretha said of Alli, the female protagonist in Crossing Lines, “To me, the best part of the book is Alli...In our society it’s hard to write a ’strong female character’ who is universally likable, but you certainly pulled it off.” Alli's strength is evident from the beginning, but with her strength comes stubbornness and also an unwillingness at first have the tough discussions when her first love, Brandon, displays different views on guns during the March for Our Lives events.

In Oliver's Birthday and the Robin's Nest, Oliver emotionally struggles when he has to rethink his upcoming bouncy house birthday party because of the robin's nest in his backyard. In the end, as one reviewer noted, "It was a great lesson for Oliver to understand that sometimes we must change our plans to accommodate others."

My goal with each of my novels is to give kids of all ages AND adults a way to look at, discuss and consider important problems and become invested in how they are ultimately resolved. My books may open with angst and drama, but I am a sucker for writing happy endings.


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