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December 2, 2010

Matt de la Pena: Teenage Depression in WILL SAVE YOU

Posted by jordana

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Dealing with depression is hard at any stage in life, but Matt approaches the topic of teenage depression with an honesty and sincerity that will resonate with teens from all walks of life. Here Matt talks with Teenreads about his latest, I WILL SAVE YOU, and what inspired him to write this book.

I WILL SAVE YOU is a book about an odd love triangle. And it’s a book about a poor boy getting close to a wealthy girl. And it’s a book about the hope of first love. But most importantly, I WILL SAVE YOU is also a book about teenage depression.

When Kidd Ellison loses his parents at a young age, in a violent way, he winds up in a special foster home for kids who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. He spends day and night in bed, unable to see a future for himself, unable to talk with others. His only friend is Devon, a psychopath with a diagnosed death drive. Devon fills a void in Kidd’s life for years until his counselors tell him the relationship is bad for him and force the two apart. The novel begins when Kidd runs away from the home to a beach in southern California where he gets a job doing maintenance work at a campsite near the ocean. This is where Kidd meets Olivia and his life begins to soar for the first time since he was young. Olivia is beautiful and privileged, the kind of girl Kidd has never been exposed to. He quickly falls in love with her. But when Devon finds Kidd at the beach, after they’ve been estranged for years, Kidd’s happiness is threatened. And when Devon targets Olivia, Kidd believes it is up to him to save her, even if that means sacrificing himself.

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I do a lot of school visits these days, and I’m finding that a shocking amount of today’s juniorhigh and high school kids deal with depression. For some it’s severe. For others it comes and goes. But this book was really inspired by some of the kids I’ve met who have been honest enough to share their stories with me. And even though I’m writing about a depressed teen, my favorite part of the novel is watching Kidd search for hope. Because that’s what life is about in my opinion. Hope. I would be honored if you’d give this story a chance. Thank you!

---Matt de la Peña