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#MHYALit: The Best Way to Erase the Stigma of Mental Health – Talk About It!

Today, as part of the Mental Health in YA Lit Discussion (#MHYALit), guest Deanna Cabinian is discussing the importance of talking about mental health in order to help erase the stigma.

You can read all the #MHYALit posts here or click on the #MHYALit tag.


Recently I had the pleasure of going to a book signing where I met YA authors Jennifer Niven and Kathleen Glasgow. The thing I love about these ladies is they aren’t afraid to go there when it comes to mental health issues. Ms. Niven talked about Finch having bipolar disorder in All the Bright Places and Ms. Glasgow talked about the self-harm Charlie, the main character of her novel Girl in Pieces, struggles with. As I sat there listening to their talk, I thought, this never would have happened when I was sixteen. There were no books like this when I was a teenager; if there were I never heard about them. I thought it was too bad these novels hadn’t come out ten or fifteen years ago when I really could have used them.

One of my very close family members has struggled with OCD, bipolar disorder, and depression—basically the trifecta. I never used to tell people about it, though, and hid my own family’s issues for a long time, almost three decades, because I worried about what people might think. What would they say? Would they judge my family members differently? Would they think I was sick—that these conditions were catching? Would they think we were all freaks?


When I was twenty-six years old I pulled my two closest coworkers into a conference room (they would later attend my wedding) and told them about what my family had been through and what we were currently dealing with. I just spewed everything in a rush without taking a breath. It was a three-minute summary of what life had been like for the past ten years.

“Everyone knows someone with mental health issues,” my friend said. “It’s not a big deal.” If that was true, though, then why didn’t we talk about it? Why didn’t we talk about how hard it is to see someone go through that? How we spend hours worrying and wondering, are they okay?

There’s always been so much shame surrounding mental illness, to the point that sometimes people wait years to get help. They don’t want to admit they have a problem, that their mind is behaving in ways they can’t control. This is why books like All the Bright Places and Girl in Pieces are so important. They get people talking. They tell people they are not alone. That they are not freaks. They tell people it’s okay to talk about it.

The good news is now people are starting to talk about it en masse. Talking about it is the only way to get loved ones the help they need. It’s also the only way to make a dent in the stigma.


Do you want to write a guest post and talk about YA lit, teens and mental health? Contact one of us, we’d love to talk with you.

About the Author


Deanna Cabinian has worked in radio, television, and magazine publishing, but her greatest passion is writing. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, she has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Master’s degree in sport management. Her debut contemporary YA novel, One Night, was released on September 5. Find her online at

Uppercase Unboxing

Welcome to the first of three unboxing posts – one each month. As you might have already gathered, I was contacted by Uppercase and offered a free three month subscription to their ‘box’ service in return for blogging about what I received. I’m not entirely sure why they chose me out of the four of us to contact, but I’m also not going to look a free book in the mouth…or something like that.

So I put box in quotes because that is the first thing I noticed about the package – it arrived in a bubble envelope and the contents of the ‘box’ are actually delivered in a simple cloth bag. Which…six of one, half a dozen of the other…makes no real difference, it was just a surprise. Here are the entire contents, laid out for your viewing:


You’ll see that this month’s book is Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. I received an ARC of this, but passed it on to another eager reader. I get way more ARCs than I have time to read, and I live in a tiny apartment, so…yeah. Now, however, I’m intrigued, especially since it’s blurbed on the front cover by Leigh Bardugo, in whose taste I have the utmost confidence. Here is the publisher’s summary:

Vassa in the Night is a powerful and haunting modern retelling of the Russian folktale “Vassilissa the Beautiful” for teen fans of urban fantasy, fairy tales, magic, and horror who enjoy books by Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, Catherynne Valente, and V. E. Schwab.

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair….

Also, to sweeten the offering, the copy is signed.


The next item is the ‘Punk Rock Writers Journal’, which features images of famous authors reimagined as punk rockers. Of the 18 featured authors, 10 are men and 8 are women, which is decent gender representation. Unfortunately, only 3 of the 18 are people of color, and they made Langston Hughes look positively ghostly white. It’s a notebook. I don’t generally use them, but it might make a nice gift for the classical book lover with a sense of humor in your life. I can see where it would appeal to teens.


Next, we have a set of Cassette Tape bookmarks, which I thought was a rather random inclusion, since most teens I know have no idea what a cassette tape is, unless they’ve read Eleanor and Park. I however, will enjoy using them.

And finally, there is a cute little sticker of one of the characters from the novel. In all, I would say it’s a reasonable offering of items worth slightly more than the cost of the subscription ($23/month + $6 shipping.) If you’re looking for a gift for your favorite teen or YA book fanatic, this would serve well.




October/November #ARCParty


For those of you new to TLT, here’s how an ARC Party works: The Tween and The Bestie go through each title, reading the back cover info aloud to one another. After examining the covers, they then give each book a yeah or nay, letting me know if they are interested in reading each title. Here are the books we looked at last night and their initial reactions.

  1. Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

Oct 2016

Russian revolution, "double agents",…

    Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus SedgwickOct 2016Russian revolution, “double agents”,… 

  2. The Messenger by Carol Lynch Williams

Oct 2016

Ever speaks to the dead, paranormal, romance

    The Messenger by Carol Lynch WilliamsOct 2016Ever speaks to the dead, paranormal, romance 

  3. The Baby by Lisa Drakeford

Oct 2016

A teen surprises everyone by giving birth and everyone is…

    The Baby by Lisa DrakefordOct 2016A teen surprises everyone by giving birth and everyone is… 

  4. A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Oct 2016

A teen is sent to Japan and slips back in…

    A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay SmithOct 2016A teen is sent to Japan and slips back in… 

  5. This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

Nov 2016

5 boys go hunting, only 1 comes back and Kate is…

    This Is Our Story by Ashley ElstonNov 20165 boys go hunting, only 1 comes back and Kate is… 

  6. Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Trombly

Nov 2016

Will Zoe take a detour and find out…

    Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie TromblyNov 2016Will Zoe take a detour and find out… 

  7. Diabolic by S J Kincaid

Nov 2016

1 of the most anticipated reads for Fall 2016. Science…

    Diabolic by S J KincaidNov 20161 of the most anticipated reads for Fall 2016. Science… 

  8. Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally

Nov 2016

Family, music, poetry, identity, family secrets

    Girls in the Moon by Janet McNallyNov 2016Family, music, poetry, identity, family secrets 

  9. The Amateurs by Sara Sheppard

Nov 2016

5 years ago a girl disappeared, a group of teens…

    The Amateurs by Sara SheppardNov 20165 years ago a girl disappeared, a group of teens… 

  10. The Best Possible Answer

Nov 2016

What do you do when your boyfriend leaks racy pics of you…

    The Best Possible AnswerNov 2016What do you do when your boyfriend leaks racy pics of you… 

  11. We Are Still Tornadoes

Nov 2016

Set in the 80s. Should two best friends be more than friends?

    We Are Still TornadoesNov 2016Set in the 80s. Should two best friends be more than friends? 

  12. Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth

Nov 2016

Drama/theater, HS crushes, time travel to Shakespearean…

    Saving Hamlet by Molly BoothNov 2016Drama/theater, HS crushes, time travel to Shakespearean… 

  13. Spindle by E K Johnston

Dec 2016

Story spinners, demons, curses
A retell one of Sleeping Beauty

    Spindle by E K JohnstonDec 2016Story spinners, demons, curses
    A retell one of Sleeping Beauty 

  14. Everyday Magic by Emily Allbright

Dec 2016

Hollywood behind the scenes

    Everyday Magic by Emily AllbrightDec 2016Hollywood behind the scenes 

Video Games Weekly: Paper Mario – Color Splash

This week’s video game is the newest edition of the “Paper Mario” series.  Paper Mario takes the classic 2D side scrolling game and gives it a role-playing feel, often with 3D elements and a paper aesthetic.  Mario usually has a hammer that can squish enemies, and as always he has to save Princess Peach in Mushroom Kingdom.

YouTube Trailer:

Platform:  Wii U

Rated: E

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: Mario and Peach set out to a town called Prism Island, only to learn that the world’s color and characters have been drained by Shy Guys wielding straws.  The town’s color source used to be from a fountain that held Big Paint Stars, but the fountain has been drained and the stars are missing.  In addition, there’s a giant black paint version of Bowser throwing the world into chaos, and it’s up to Mario to save Princess Peach (who once again gets kidnapped) and restore the Big Paint Stars alongside his new sidekick, Huey the paint can.


The storyline isn’t really fleshed out, nor are the rules of the universe.  There are parts of the universe that are graphically realistic looking, called “Things”, and the game gives absolutely no reason as to why they exist or why you can “squeeze” them into cards.  It’s a jarring experience in a overall beautifully crafted aesthetic world.

Gameplay: Mario has a nifty magic hammer that can soak up red, blue, and yellow paint.  By running around, players can smack whited out areas to restore their colors, hit enemies, and suck up more paint by smacking the natural parts of the world.

What do I mean by this?  Instead of a typical Mario game where players kill enemies by simply jumping on top of them, Mario has to select a series of cards like the ones above to kill enemies.  Players can choose up to two cards, and decide to boost their effects by using paint to color them.  After the player’s turn, the enemies take their turn attacking Mario.

In order to progress in the game, Mario has to find both regular Paint Stars and Big Paint Stars.  These stars unlock new areas in the world, which have their own subplots and obstacles.

Overall, it takes about four or five hours of gameplay to unlock each Big Paint Star, and there are six in total.  Despite the obstacles of each area being very intriguing, the unfortunate part is how the turn-based combat system just doesn’t work for me.  There simply isn’t enough variety in enemies and action cards to keep the game interesting, and you don’t need to plan out complex strategies in order to win.  I found myself doing everything in my power to avoid enemies as much as possible because I didn’t want to have to sit through another battle.

The game is meant for players who have enough patience for turn-based games, but even then fans of the  genre will be disappointed with the limited amount of strategy needed in order to succeed.  Next week, I’ll be reviewing XCOM 2,which is another turn-based game that might be more suitable for these types of gamers.   


Verdict: The game is beautiful to look at, but players are better off admiring Tearaway Unfolded for the paper aesthetics, and should look elsewhere for turn-based combat games.  Secondary purchase for circulating collections.


Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian


Pricing: $60 on Amazon

#MHYALit: Puzzling Through Teen Mental Health, a conversation with Emily Franklin and H.A. Swain

MHYALitlogoofficfialHA SWAIN: I love how Last Night at the Circle Cinema is constructed as a big puzzle in which you expertly lay down clues for the reader. It’s the kind of book you finish and then need to start again immediately to figure out everything you missed on the first read. Understanding one’s own mental health (or that of a friend’s) can feel equally puzzling, especially because life isn’t a story you can reread. Was this set up a conscious decision on your part as a way to comment on mental health?


Emily Franklin: Yes, this book is about muddling through the puzzle of life. How often do we have clarity on our feelings? It’s tough to recognize a tough day versus a really tough stretch, or to translate this into a needing help situation. Therapy and talking to an empathetic listener really can help untangle strands of stress or unhappiness, not only to make change in our lives but just to unload. But our society still has such negative feelings and stigma with mental health which then creates tension about asking direct questions. We wouldn’t hesitate to ask a friend how their broken leg is healing, but it feels tougher to ask if they are struggling with depression or grief. Issues without clear solutions or quick fixes are sometimes uncomfortable for humans to muddle through.


HA SWAIN: I really appreciated that you never explicitly state that Bertucci struggles with a diagnosed mental illness. Was that a conscious choice and if so, why?


last nightEmily Franklin: I don’t know that I ever sat at my desk and thought, you know, I just won’t say anything direct about this. The whole book is a puzzle, as you said, and part of the puzzle for all of us is figuring out the pieces of ourselves and how they fit with our world. Also how our friendships fit together and how even close friends have secrets or hide parts of themselves. And I think there’s an over-statement thing that can happen in fiction – both YA and adult – and I’m more a fan of quiet.


HA SWAIN: How much do you think Codman and Livvy understood about Bertucci’s situation? And what advice would you give to young adults who are watching a friend struggle with mental health issues?


Emily Franklin: I think Codman and Livvy – especially Livvy as she grew closer to Bertucci and helped care for his mother with him – were aware of his illness. At first they probably thought he moved in extremes but they liked his grandiose ideas and pranks, his energy. But I think Livvy knew he was unwell and certainly knew he’d stopped taking his meds. But like many close friends, she didn’t feel able to confront him about this, mainly because she hoped he’d be okay and also because it is easy to feel as though we are intruding in terms of mental health. I’ve learned as an adult that I will risk a friendship or relationship to ask if someone needs help or to speak up, but these actions are not risk-free. It’s even harder for teens to do because it’s a learned skill that we don’t teach.


HA SWAIN: I love how Bertucci is not defined by a diagnosis. He’s not just “the depressed guy” or “the bipolar guy.” Like any real person, he’s a wonderful conglomeration of character traits, some which make him incredibly interesting, enigmatic, fun, and endearing and others that are deeply troubling. What’s the importance of creating nuanced, realistic portraits of teens who have mental health issues?


Emily Franklin: When I set out to write this novel, I was coming out of the darkest period in my own life. One of my kids had been in the hospital and my dear grandfather had died, leaving a big hole in my heart. The thing is, I was still me. I was sad and depressed and yet I still cooked and helped my friends and did homework with my other kids and made weird jokes. But my best friend in the world knew I was only half-myself. So as I wrote CIRCLE I really had in mind the selves we present to the outside world, the self we show to the mirror, the self we share with our partners and this self we reserve really and truly for our best friend. I think Livvy and Codman and Bertucci are whole, nuanced people because I didn’t want make one the anxious guy and one the stressed girl and one the plagued kid. They are all entwined and, for Bertucci, I wanted him to straddle the line between inventive, brilliant, and wacky on one hand and unbalanced on the other.


HA SWAIN: We’ve talked a lot about Bertucci’s mental health, but let’s chat about Livvy and Codman. So many teens struggle with undiagnosed mental health issues at different times in their lives. How would you support a teen like Livvy who may be struggling with her own anxiety or dealing with a friend who’s going through a hard time?


Emily Franklin: I think Codman uses humor to gloss over his feelings – something I’ve certainly done. And Livvy is pretty stressed – her parents are about to separate and using her as their go-between. She’s a high-achieving person and probably spends more time taking care of others rather than herself. Livvy needs to be able to talk about her feelings – and I think she and Codman finally do in their confrontation at the end of the book. But I also chose to have these missed connections between Livvy, Codman, and Bertucci as well as their parents because it felt real. So often we WANT to speak or to connect but we hold off, and the moment is gone. In this case, to tragic consequence. With my own kids, we urge open communication, and to have this there has to be no judgment. I think a lot of parents are so afraid of what they might find by asking their kids deep questions that they say nothing and hope for the best. 


HA SWAIN: So true! And yet, even though we hear so much about the importance of talking to teens about mental health, you had a hard time placing this novel with a publisher because many of them felt the story was too dark. What does that say about society’s level of comfort of talking openly about mental health, especially with young adults?


Emily Franklin: If I had a dollar for every time I had to read a rejection letter from an editor saying they loved my writing but wished my subject matter could be lighter…well, I’d have a lot of dollars. Carolrhoda is great because they take risks and Andrew Karre, my editor, immediately recognized the triangular friendship and the darkness being balanced with humor and love. As a society, we like to think of childhood as trouble-free. So it’s tough when issues arise – either from circumstance or biology or both. Being a human is a beautiful, difficult thing and we all need supports— young adults especially. Asking for things to be “easier and lighter” as these editors asked (one actually cried at the end and yet still asked me to make it “less sad”) is a fantasy. Not that every day or every page contains within it such heartbreak, but we can’t dismiss the pain or feelings just wishing it away. We have to acknowledge and accept. Sometimes, just getting it out there – to a reader, a therapist, or a best friend or a stranger on the bus – can make all the difference.


About Last Night at the Circle Cinema (Lerner, 2015)

Olivia, Bertucci, and Codman are a trio-an impenetrable triangle of friendship. Beyond friendship, they share a love of the Circle Cinema, a once thriving movie theater now facing the wrecking ball, about to be forgotten forever-which is, as far as Olivia and Codman can tell, what’s going to happen to them after graduation.

Bertucci convinces Olivia and Codman to spend their last night before graduation locked inside the Cinema’s concrete walls. None of them can open the box before sunrise. The trio is then forced to face each other, the events of the past year, and whatever is to come when the new day dawns.


Credit: Lou Rouse

Credit: Lou Rouse

Emily Franklin is the author of a novel, Liner Notes and a story collection, The Girls’ Almanac. She is also the author of sixteen young adult books including Last Night at the Circle Cinema, selected by the American Association of Jewish Libraries as a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for 2016, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and an ALAN Pick. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio and in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and in numerous literary magazines. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and four children and is at work completing a new novel and another story collection.



autor-close-upH.A. Swain writes books for children and teens. She is the author of the young adult novels Gifted and Hungry. Her illustrated children’s book, All Kinds of Kisses and How Many Hugs will be published in 2016 and 2017. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Follow her @HeatherASwain or stop by her Facebook fan page to say Hi!

Middle School Monday: Embracing our Book-ishness.


Last week, I wrote something review-ish. It was frankly more of an ode to a book than a review of one and I am happy to own that fervent love of a book. I’m also proud to own (and advertise) the consuming love I have for MG and YA books in general.

It was striking that several times last week, I came face-to-face with the idea that school librarians today don’t really know a lot about books—aren’t really expected to know a lot about books. That we are primarily focused on technology—either integration or fixing equipment.

An aside: Surely this started when we started calling ourselves media specialists? Anyone else cringe at that term? It sounds like we work at a big-box TV store. Even worse, it doesn’t connect what we do to the public libraries that our students can visit for their entire lives and the academic librarians that they will encounter when they go to college. I am a LIBRARIAN. I work in a LIBRARY. That library is housed in a school. Yes, of course, we deal with technologyjust like our fellow librarians in other library settings.

That was a long aside. Back to the story. In several, separate incidents, fellow educators expressed surprise that youth literature was a huge part of my life or thought that I was unique in our profession. Why is that surprising? When—as school librarians—did it get less obvious that we love and know books?

Another aside: I know several wonderful school librarians who freely admit that books are not why they became a school librarian. They are more focused on access to information or the excitement of good research. That’s awesome, too! A major plus of the school librarian role is that it can look different for each of us.

But, I know, I know that there are many of us who are here because, for us, kids/teens + books = paradise. I’m beginning to think that perhaps we make this obvious in our individual interactions with teens, but that when we are speaking to staff—because of the role that many of us find ourselves in—we are passing on information about technology, copyright laws, equipment purchases, software fixes, and a million other things that aren’t literacy, books, or reading. Our love of books is getting lost under all the other information we’re distributing. Have people forgotten that we know books? That we are focused on reading, engagement, and literacy?

What’s the fix? Just as we advocate for our libraries and ourselves, I think we also have to make our ‘book-ishness’—and our knowledge about literature and literacy—more public. Not just with our teens or a few colleagues, but throughout the school.

I’d love to hear how you are a public beacon for reading at your school—not with your students, but with your colleagues. :) Do you have a teacher/staff book club? Do you do (novel) book talks at staff meetings?

Would anyone like to write a review—or even an ode—to an ‘under the radar’ book? I’d love to publish some on this blog. You can then link to your review on your library website or school newsletter and advertise in your school. You know. To show off your ‘bookish-ness’. And expertise.

[I’m serious about the reviews. Contact me at @BespokeLib if interested!]

Julie Stivers


Tech Talk: The Ongoing Quest for iPad/iPhone Printing, Or, How I Fell in Love with a Printing App

At home and in my Teen MakerSpace, I find myself on an endless quest to figure out how to print from a mobile device like a tablet or smart phone. This is particularly true when it comes to Instagram pics. For a while I was quite happy using an app called Print Your Insta, but when Instagram updated the app was no longer compatible. Thus began a new quest for wifi printing options. My quest was arduous, but I managed to find an even better app that opened my world to new possibilities.

The Wireless Printing Service

If you work in a public library, the most reasonable suggestion is to use a wireless printing host, such as PrinterOn. One of the library’s that I worked at used this service and it worked fine for us (most of the time). It can have some issues, especially if you have an IT department who is concerned with security issues. This service can be open to the public, which is great for patrons who bring their own devices and need to print.

For something like a Teen MakerSpace, you do not need to have an open wifi printing network, you just need a wireless compatible printer. Sometimes these are called AirPrinters. Whatever they are called, they allow you to send a print job over a wifi network.

The Polaroid ZIP Printer

You can also buy and use something like a Zip printer if you have a small Teen MakerSpace, like I do. The device itself works fine, but the paper is expensive – and small. It’s great for doing something like a remote photo booth and printing off quick pics to send home with your teens, but not ideal for a long term situation.


The Print to Size App


Even with a wireless printer, Instagram is not set up to print. It’s one of the main flaws with the app in my opinion. So you have to use a printing app to get your Instagram pic from your device to a printer. Some of the various apps I have tried include HP Snapchats, PhotoPrint LT, and Print to Size.

The best app I have found is an app called Print to Size, which appears only to be available for Apple products (sorry). It allows you to pick your paper size, easily drag and size your pictures, and to place multiple pictures on one sheet of paper. It’s quick, easy and incredibly versatile. You do have to have a wifi/airprint printer to use your mobile device to print over a wifi network. This app is not just great for printing your Instagram pics, it is a one stop app for all your photo printing needs.

Insert and size your image

Insert and size your image

You can then send your image to the printer or export it as a PDF or JPG

You can then send your image to the printer or export it as a PDF or JPG

You can easily print your Instagram pics at a 3.5 x 3.5 size on a 4×6 sheet of paper, trim the edges, and have an old fashioned looking Polaroid picture.

Print, trim & make a classic looking Polaroid image

Print, trim & make a classic looking Polaroid image

You can print in a variety of sizes or make your own collages

You can print in a variety of sizes or make your own collages

This quest has also served as a great reminder to me that sometimes it is a good idea to go out and try new things even if you think you are happy with what you have. I loved my Print to Insta app, but it only allowed me to print my Instagram pics. Now I can print any of my pics, in any size that I want. Being forced to try something new helped me find a better product.


justagirlDuring the 3rd and final debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump called Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman”. Many women have remarked that this is the sexism that powerful women face on a daily basis. If being a strong, confident and powerful woman makes you a “nasty woman”, what YA lit books would a “nasty woman” read I wondered. So I asked my friends on Twitter. So here is a list of recommended YA lit titles for “nasty women” to read. You can add your own recommendations in the comments.

nastywomenread book list

Friday Finds: October 21, 2016

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Win 5 from Merit Press

Middle School Monday: A Review. Of a Book. That is Fire.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Spring 2017 Showcase and Giveaway

Things I Never Learned in Library School: Dealing with Minors and Pornography

NerdCon: Stories 2016

Video Games 101: What you need to know about Lego Dimensions

Privacy in the Digital Age, A Look at IN CASE YOU MISSED IT by author Sarah Darer Littman

Around the Web

American Academy Of Pediatrics Lifts ‘No Screens Under 2′ Rule

Texas May Be Denying Tens Of Thousands Of Children Special Education

Montana Judge Faces Call For Impeachment After Incest Sentencing

Teen Suicide Prevention Efforts

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Joins Ava DuVernay’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

Agree to Disagree


Privacy in the Digital Age, A Look at IN CASE YOU MISSED IT by author Sarah Darer Littman

What if you kept a diary and suddenly everyone could read what you had said in private? That’s the question posed in IN CASE YOU MISSED IT by author Sarah Darer Littman. Today she is here to talk about her latest book and the idea of privacy in an increasingly open and online world.


Did you ever keep a journal in middle school or high school? My teen diaries provide a wealth of humor, insight, and sometimes, deep embarrassment when I read back on them through the lens of longer life experience.

Even now, the thought of those journals being made public in anything other than a deeply disguised fictional form is mortifying.

My teen diaries were hand written, but even though I tried to hide them, they were vulnerable to discovery by my siblings and parents.  Those discoveries had negative consequences, but nothing like what happens to Sammy Wallach, the main character in my latest YA novel, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT.

Sammy thinks she’s being smart by keeping her journal on her laptop, so her parents and little brother RJ can’t read it. What she forgets is that her laptop is set to automatically back up to the cloud. Her most private thoughts become public as “collateral damage” when hacktivists target her father, the CEO of a major bank. Sammy has been keeping secrets from her parents – but they’ve got secrets of their own. When everything becomes public, can they all learn to trust again?

One thing for which I’ve become increasingly grateful as I’ve watched my kids grow up in the Internet age is that I was able to make all the many, many mistakes I did in relative privacy.  Most of my worst offenses are hazy memories in the heads of middle school and high school friends. I didn’t have to worry about them being  documented on social media.

If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that a great proportion of adults have difficulty with using social media responsibly.  Yet we put this technology in the hands of younger and younger kids, whose frontal cortexes (the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps with rational decision making) haven’t fully matured and developed, and we expect them to behave in a way many adults still have been unable to master and model.

As with all of my books, I hope IN CASE YOU MISSED IT helps to start some conversations, especially about online privacy and personal responsibility in the social media era.

Publisher’s Book Description

Everyone has secrets—until they go viral.

Sammy Wallach has epic plans for the end of junior year: Sneak out to the city to see her favorite band. Get crush-worthy Jamie Moss to ask her to prom. Rock all exams (APs and driver’s).

With a few white lies, some killer flirting, and tons of practice, Sammy’s got things covered. That is, until the international bank her dad works for is attacked by hacktivists who manage to steal everything in the Wallach family’s private cloud, including Sammy’s entire digital life. Literally the whole world has access to her emails, texts, photos, and, worst of all, journal.

Life. Is. Over.

Now Sammy’s best friends are furious about things she wrote, Jamie thinks she’s desperate, and she can barely show her face at school. Plus, her parents know all the rules she broke. But Sammy’s not the only one with secrets—her family has a few of its own that could change everything. And while the truth might set you free, no one said it was going to be painless. Or in Sammy’s case, private. (Scholastic, October 11, 2016)

About Sarah  Darer Littman

Sarah Darer Littman is the award-winning author of CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC, PURGE, LIFE, AFTER, WANT TO GO PRIVATE? and the upcoming CHARMED, I’M SURE and IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. In addition to writing for teens, she is a columnist the website She lives in Connecticut, in a house that never seems to have enough bookshelves.Tweeters follow Sarah @SarahDarerLitt