The years you spend on the cusp of adulthood—not quite treated like an adult by society but expected to have your life all planned out—can be one of the most confusing times in life. Pressure and confines come at you from so many angles, and in the U.S. it can have a dizzying impact. Parents unable or unwilling to let you exert your majority. Schools demanding to know what you want to be when you ‘grow up’. You can vote, die for your country in a war you were too young to vote for, and be tried as an adult. And those are just the basics!
When biology and emotions come into play, and they always do, things can get confusing fast, with mixed signals flying at you from well-meaning people and people who would prefer to control your decisions. Those are not always mutually exclusive, either.
One of those mixed messages is having an awareness of your sexuality around you all the time while being told not to do it, or that it’s even bad, wrong, dirty, and will ruin you for some hypothetical future partner. I was no exception to this coding, and my own experiences are filled with guilt, shame, and a lot of self-loathing that sent me on a spiral of self-destruction.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
I wish I’d had more media available to tell me this. I wish someone had known that someone like me would need to know that I was not wrong, dirty, or bad. That my feelings were perfectly normal.
About twenty-some years too late for me, but just in time for a current generation of proto-adults, C.L. Walters has come in swinging. She has crafted a beautiful new novel, The Stories Stars Tell, that tackle some of these topics, and so much more.
This is a fantastic story with authentic, complicated teens—something at which Walters excels. Tanner and Emma come at this period of their lives from very different walks and perspectives, and their journeys merge from there. They feel broken, not whole, and are searching for sense in a time of life where very little makes sense, and a whole lot feels scary.
You can read my review on Goodreads if you are so inclined. You can also preorder The Stories Stars Tell, and her other books, at Walters’ website. The Stories Stars Tell is available October 13th, 2020.