Readers have called my young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen “edgy” and had a lot of questions about the characters profiled there. Some of those questions have been, well, edgy themselves. With only a chapter spent with each, readers fiercely want to hold the characters accountable and make sure they get the respect they deserve.
1. What’s it been like living with your mom since your dad was murdered?
2. Knowing that your dad had a secret life, it must sometimes feel like he, or you, were living in alternate realities. Can you talk about that?
3. Your dad had a ritual of smoking two cigarettes a day: “One cigarette in the morning to think about what you want to do. And one cigarette to forgive yourself for whatever you didn’t get done.” If he could tell you what his second cigarette was for the night he died, what do you think he’d say?
4. How did Tommy Smythe’s disappearance make the whole world feel off-kilter for you?
5. How did spreading your dad’s ashes at the sinkhole and saying good-bye to him make you feel like maybe it was time to say good-bye to Tommy as well?
Readers have also seen themselves in characters or seen their friends in the pages. Some of things they see about themselves and others make them curious, some scare them, and some offer hope. Each set of questions is followed by some websites and organizations where you might get answers. I call them “resources” for lack of a better name. But they could also be called a lifeline, a revelation, or evidence of things not seen. Don’t be afraid to look for answers.
You can find lots of information and other resources for kids of drug addicted parents at NIDA for Teens.
And support groups for young people who are experience grief and loss here.