I just finished reading A Step Toward Falling by Cammie Mcgovern. It’s a young adult novel about teens with and without disabilities trying to navigate hard situations including regrets, forgiveness, and trying again. Most of all it’s about the angst of rejection and being who you are anyway. The author gets a lot of the disability pieces right, sitting alone at the lunch table, trying to figure out if the non-disabled person is being truly friendly or patronizing, etc. There’s no quick fixes or happy ever after endings.

As I read it I remembered the loneliness of high school broken through by a few good friends. The book makes the point that that is a common experience because of rejection or feared rejection because of characteristics like being a jock, a nerd or having a disability. Teens reading it will be a bit comforted by knowing they’re not alone.

I’d like to write an epilogue reassuring the teen readers that It Does Get Better. As I set forth into a week of guest lectures, meetings, book clubs, meals with friends and a bridge game to keep me humble, I know I am useful and beloved in my world. Yes, it’s a struggle and sometimes I don’t feel the love, but it’s there. I noticed that one of the 2016 American Library Association Schneider Family Book award winners, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten is dedicated to people who feel different knowing they are not alone.

The ending of this poem, “The Laughing Heart” says it better than I can:

your life is your life.

know it while you have it.

you are marvelous

the gods wait to delight

in you.

—Charles Bukowski