By Janette Turner
“The look on his face shows the drug deal must have gone well.” That’s a line from “You’ve Got It All Wrong,” the second book in the Scriber Lake High School series, edited by instructors Marjie Bowker and Ingrid Ricks. Last year’s book was a success that landed the writers on “New Day Northwest” and in Reader’s Digest. This latest edition features many new writers dealing with tough teen subjects, including drug addiction, abuse and gang violence. If you’re looking for a rosy picture of youth, then you may want to pretend these stories don’t exist. But then, like the title says, you’ve got it all wrong.
On the outside, you may see these kids as “freak, druggie, slut, loser,” but then you’d miss the reality. These are teens who have endured tough times, and still want to move forward.
For student Isabel Cordova, her story, “He Was My Hero,” is about “when my dad comes home drunk and beats me up.” The physical abuse is painful, but the reader wonders how Isabel will ever recover from the psychological blow when her father rejects her with the line: “My daughter is dead to me.”
These are stories about losing childhood, a parent, a home, health, sanity. And still somehow finding a foothold and a welcoming place at Scriber. According to Cordova, “It’s not a school with ‘at risk students.’ It’s a school where people find and seek for a second chance. Also where the classes are smaller and you get more help, and teachers often take the time to ask ‘how are you today?’”
Student Tatti Fernandez seconds that: “I want people to know that Scriber isn’t just a school for the problem children. The students here are very smart, but can’t handle a normal school. That doesn’t make us bad kids.” Destiny Allison adds that the writing program was key. “I want to say that this has been a great experience and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”
Nina Hogan, author of “Maybe I Could Have Saved Him,” wants people to know that “this book is 100 percent real and these stories are what people have struggled with. This book shows that just because someone messes up or grows up in a (tough) environment it doesn’t mean that they’re bad people. We’re here to tell you, ‘you’ve got it all wrong.’ It is what’s inside that counts, not the outside.” Hogan has high praise for her school. “Scriber saved me. I would not have gotten this far without this school. The staff actually cares about you and will help you until you give up, and even then they still try and persuade you to succeed. Scriber gave me hope to do something successful with my life because no matter how hard something is, it’s all worth it in the end.”
And that line about the good drug deal at the top of this column comes from a story called “Take a Bow,” by Kelly Peterson. In it, she lives up to the title “white girl wasted,” but realizes her boyfriend has replaced her with drugs, and she has given alcohol the primo spot in her own life. In the end, she realizes “there is no winning in the drug world – only loss.”
It’s a gripping tale from the school of hard knocks.
A release party celebrating the student writers of “You’ve Got It All Wrong” will be held June 6, from 5 – 8 p.m., at Café Louvre. The public is invited.