My book launches tomorrow. I feel…okay? One effect of the past year and its onslaught of tragedy is that it puts experiences like publishing a book into an appropriately low-stakes perspective. I am unbelievably fortunate to get to do the thing I have loved since childhood. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and tell that book-obsessed kid about my life today. She would probably faint from happiness.
In a way, I wrote this book for her. My adolescence was a hard time. I know it was for my sweet parents, too. It was hard in the clichéd ways, but also so many other ways that we don’t talk about, and it took me 25 years to find words for them. I think a lot of people—kids and their parents—go through that experience feeling alone. But they’re not. I wrote this book for them, too. My experiences weren’t universal, and neither are the ways I found to survive them and thrive as an adult, but they do map some possible ways forward.
Sometimes after literary events, I’ve been approached by mothers of adolescent or teen girls, and they have questions for me—what can they do differently, what helped me, etc.—but what they are really asking for is hope. They want to believe that their love can counter all the other forces out there telling their kids what they are worth, how they should look, and to whom they owe their bodies.
I am so glad that I can offer that hope. No single person can prevent a kid from being hurt and shaped by the harmful forces at work in our society, but it was the love I got from my mother, from both my parents, and from so many other people along the way—teachers, therapists, friends, strangers, writers—that nurtured a resilience in me whose final result is this book, and this beautiful life. Sometimes it’s not possible to see the work that love does for years and years after we give it. It can be a long haul and we need hope to carry us through.
I’d love if you got this book for the folks in your life who might need it. Here’s a list of places to order it. If you have a moment tomorrow to post about the book or forward this letter to those who might be interested, I’d be grateful. If you have another moment to leave a review or rating on Amazon or Goodreads, I’d be grateful. If all you can manage right now is to keep your own heart afloat, I’m grateful for that important work most of all.
I’ll be celebrating my publication day tomorrow evening with some good friends, via one of my favorite bookstores, Charis Books, & you can register here. In the coming weeks, I’ll be reading from Girlhood and talking with lots of amazing writers. You can see a partial list of events below, and find links to register for them on my website.
I hope you are holding up all right, wherever you are. I’ve got some hope over here for you, whatever kind you need.
P.S. It’s been a heavy few weeks, since the shootings in Atlanta and Boulder. I hate being stuck in relative isolation, all of us alone with our grief and feelings of powerlessness. Here’s a place to donate to a grassroots collective of Asian and migrant sex workers. Here you can give to the AAPI Community Fund. Here you can register for a bystander intervention training. Here are some places to give to the families of the victims of the supermarket shooting.