Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
It’s no secret that adolescence can feel like an emotional roller coaster. We all navigate the choppy waters of our teenage years to find ourselves, and our place in society. Many of us dealt with issues that made this period harder, such as parents divorcing, bullying at school and depression.
Most people find solace in sharing experiences, thoughts and feelings about tragedies that have affected them. When Zuiker Press announced a new line of graphic novels for teens to share personal stories of hardship, it created a whole new medium for dealing with adversity.
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Each novel is autobiographical. Anthony Zuiker takes about 18 months to create each one, interviewing the teens and their families. Inspired by his son, who wanted to write about his experience with autism, Zuiker is focused on making this series about his subjects more than himself.
The two novels lined up for this fall are Mend: A Story of Divorce and Click: A Story of Cyberbullying. Future novels include Lauren Hogg’s firsthand account of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, a posthumous telling of 14-year-old Hailee Lamberth’s suicide and a story about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Zuiker’s novels deal with dark and harrowing themes. Often, when people go through personal strife, it is easy to feel alone. True stories like these on a public platform could help someone going through a rough patch.
This idea isn’t just applicable to teenagers. College students live with the burdens of student debt, academic and familial pressure, food insecurity and much more. We could all stand to read other people’s stories of resilience and perseverance.
The new line of graphic novels might also change the way young people approach mental health. The American Psychological Association emphasizes the importance of sharing personal stories to destigmatize mental health issues, even including mini-stories on its website, where teenagers briefly discuss their experiences with mental health problems and how they coped.
Experiences with bullying and violence and struggles with one’s identity take a toll on one’s mental and emotional well-being. Although Zuiker’s novels are not exclusively focused on mental health issues, many of his themes are closely linked to events that cause them.
For adolescents who feel angry or depressed or stressed, these novels can show them other people with similar struggles. It may not solve their problems, but at least they can know they’re not alone.
Asha Kodan is a rising junior biology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.