#MHYALit: You’re Not Alone, a guest post by author Pintip Dunn
Today we are honored to host author Pintip Dunn who is discussing her book, Remember Yesterday and the Forget Tomorrow series, as part of the #MHYALit Discussion. You can read all the posts as part of the Mental Health in YA Lit Discussion here.
The FORGET TOMORROW series features a world where memories can be sent back in time to a person’s teenage self. These “future memories” are designed to reassure the recipients of their place in the world, to tell them that everything will turn out all right, and to let them know who they’re meant to be. Above all else, they are meant to give teens strength and hope.
I am asked all the time: if I could send a memory back to my younger self, what would it be? Well, I’m a writer, and I do better with words. So, in lieu of a memory, I would send the following letter.
Dear Teen Me,
I know you are lost right now. You feel alone. You think nobody understands you.
I know you don’t look like everybody else. You have “squinty” eyes and boys tell you that you’re ugly. I know sometimes you feel like, in their eyes, you might as well not be a girl at all, but an alien from another planet. I know you don’t even look like the girls from that “other planet,” Thailand. Your hair is thick and puffy, instead of slick and straight. You tower over everyone in the elevator, men and women. And when you go into a store, the tiny salesgirls scoff and shake their heads. They say, “Sorry, we don’t have anything in your size.” That is, when they don’t come right out and say: “You’re fat. How much do you weigh?”
I know you don’t feel like anybody else. You stand on the edge of conversations, part of the group but not really. You listen to the girls talking and gossiping, and you don’t get their laughter, you no longer understand their jokes. I know these girls are your friends — people with whom, just a year ago, you used to pass a gazillion notes and burn up the phone lines. That somehow makes it even worse. That somehow makes you feel even lonelier.
I know you miss your mother. You think: if she were still here, she would be the one to understand you, the one to make everything better. I know you cry yourself to sleep every night because you forgot to cry at her funeral. You were five years old. You made a game of weaving through the white folding chairs, and you thought it was fun to push the casket. I know you think there must be something wrong with you that these are your strongest memories of her death.
I know your world is dark. Your classmates used to admire your fashion sense, but now you’ve started wearing black — every day — in a desperate cry for help. I know that your plan backfires. Instead of asking you what’s wrong, your friends just whisper to each other that you’re “weird.”
I know your dad is worried about you. He moved you from the basement to the bedroom upstairs and took the lock off your door. I know you wind your arms around your bed post and hang on with all of your strength when it’s time to go to school. When he does succeed in making you go, you sit in the guidance counselor’s office all day and cry.
I know your dad thinks you’ll hurt yourself. I know you think you’ll hurt yourself — but unlike him, you’re not worried. You think it might be the answer for which you’re searching.
Let me say that again: It. Is. NOT.
I’m not going to lie and say that your future is rainbows and unicorns. I’m not going to tell you that you’ll never be lonely or depressed or anxious ever again. Sometimes, you’ll still feel like an outsider (even among your friends), and sometimes, the darkness will still descend.
But I will tell you this:
You’ll grow up and go to college, where you’ll meet more people who look like you. In time, you will learn that you are not stupid — and never have been. A few years after that, you will even learn that you’re not ugly — and never have been.
You will meet a boy, and you will fall in love with him when you witness him performing an act of genuine kindness. He will grow into a man who supports you at every turn. Who makes you feel more intelligent, more beautiful, more capable than you actually are. Who inspires you to be the best person you can possibly be.
You will give birth to a child, and it will be the happiest day of your life. Because this is the day when you become a mother for the first time. You will marvel at your baby’s thighs, swear up and down that her cries sound just like music, and stare for hours at her sleeping face. You will start to understand your place in the universe, and day by day, your baby will teach you the meaning of unconditional love.
You will experience this miracle at least two more times, and although your children may be the cause of long days and sleepless nights, they will also be the true joy of your life.
You will work tirelessly for years to achieve your lifelong dream of being a published author. You will suffer heartache and rejection, but one day, you’ll succeed. You’ll hold your book in your hand for the very first time, and you’ll know that you’ll remember this day for the rest of your life.
Strangely enough, your first book will take place in a science fiction world where memories can be sent back to your younger teenage self — just like the letter I am sending to you now.
You will be happy. There will be ups and downs, good periods and bads. But you will achieve balance in your life, you will love and be loved, and at odd moments during the day, you will stop and think, “Yes. I am grateful. I am content.”
Oh, and all those people surrounding you now, the ones you’re convinced could never understand you? You’ll go to your twenty-year high school reunion and have a book signing. You will be awed and humbled by the outpouring of support from your classmates. Your old girl friends will buy two or three books each — one for themselves and one for each of their daughters. At least two of your guy friends will say they never understood, until they left town, how difficult it must’ve been for you. They’ll say they never thought of you as anything different. They’ll say they simply thought of you as “Pin.”
You’ll finally understand that you’re not alone, after all. And maybe, just maybe, you never were.
With deepest love,
Your Future Self
Remember Yesterday Book Description:
Sixteen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries, if only she’d let TechRA study her. But ten years ago, the scientists kidnapped and experimented on her, leading to severe ramifications for her sister, Callie. She’d much rather break into their labs and sabotage their research—starting with Tanner Callahan, budding scientist and the boy she loathes most at school.
The past isn’t what she assumed, though—and neither is Tanner. He’s not the arrogant jerk she thought he was. And his research opens the door to the possibility that Jessa can rectify a fatal mistake made ten years earlier. She’ll do anything to change the past and save her sister—even if it means teaming up with the enemy she swore to defeat.
Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, Forget Tommorow, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. Her other novels include The Darkest Lie and Remember Yesterday.
She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.
Filed under: #MHYALit
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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