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About Katherine Locke
Katherine Locke lives and writes in a very small town outside of Philadelphia where they’re ruled by their feline overlords and their addiction to chai lattes. They write about things they cannot do: ballet, time travel, and magic. When they’re not writing, they’re probably tweeting. They not-so-secretly believe most stories are fairy tales in disguise. Their Young Adult debut The Girl With The Red Balloon arrives Fall 2017 from Albert Whitman & Company.
(You can add When We Collided to your Goodreads shelves Here!)
When we talk about mental health advocacy, we say things like, “You go to the doctor when you have a cough. Why don’t you go to a therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist when you’re suffering from a mental health issue?” And it’s true. We should treat mental health just like any other health problem: something deserving of professional intervention and low/no stigma. But mental illnesses aren’t like the flu. Most mental illnesses (though not all!) are much more like chronic illnesses: you will spend most of your life managing them.
I remember when I felt overwhelmed by that idea. That I was in my late teens, and I would Always Be Depressed, Always Be Anxious, Always Be Obsessive-Compulsive, Always Fighting My Eating Disorder.
“I can’t do it,” I would think. “I can’t spend the next sixty years of my life with this. Like this.”
It’s exhausting to always be guarding yourself from your own mind. And a combination of medicine and therapy help me now but at that time, I felt very alone in the world. Very alone in my fight against myself. Or for myself. Against myself, for myself, I couldn’t tell day to day which it was.
It’s one of the reasons why I felt so drawn to When We Collided by Emery Lord. Vivi suffers from bipolar disorder and in the book, we see her highs, and her lows, and her mistakes, and her heartbreaks. We see her triumph, and we see her fall. The first time I read it (full disclosure, I did a sensitivity read in an early draft for the portrayal of bipolar disorder), it felt like a punch to the heart. Because I understood Vivi. I knew why she went off her meds and I knew why she wanted to feel so vividly and I knew how heartbreaking it felt to be betrayed by one’s own mind. How victory was actually loss and loss became victory. The way those swirled together like pain.
I tried to imagine if I was a teenager getting my hands on When We Collided and I think if I’d read it as a teenager who didn’t understand that I didn’t have to fight my mind alone, and that it wasn’t a shameful thing, that I wasn’t the only one afraid of my own mind, it would have been revolutionary. To love, and be loved, while feeling broken and full at the same time would have been an anchor in my teenage years. Emery Lord’s book points out that it’s the world that is too much or too little, not those of us with mental illness.
I want more books like this, that are willing to crack open and say that the world will be hard and messy and painful and bright and loving and ours. That living with mental illness is work, but it’s work worth doing.
At the end of the book, I felt a lot like Vivi. “My cheeks are wet, but oh, my heart — it is so full.”
My inbox (via the form on my website) is always open to anyone who needs or wants to talk about mental health issues, and I keep a list of Suicide Prevention Resources on my Tumblr. You are loved and you are irreplaceable.
Title The Girl With The Red Balloon
Author Katherine Locke
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Historical Speculative Fiction
To Be Published 2017 by Albert Whitman
Find It On Goodreads
A YA novel about a 16-year-old girl who goes back in time to 1988 East Berlin, and lands in the middle of a Cold War conspiracy of history and magic. The only way to stop people from dying may be to destroy her only way home.