Dear Twelve-Year-Old Corey:
Hi from twenty years in the future!
I want you to know I get sad when I think about you. Not because you don’t have a great life ahead—you do!—but because you are confused and lonely and it takes time for things to iron themselves out, for the world to start making more sense, for the things that are painful to become the very same things that you are proud to have survived.
Right now you are probably writing in your journal about a boy you like (Jerry? Justin? Jon? You had a thing for J-names I guess) and wondering if you are pretty enough for them to like you back. Your bedroom door is closed and luckily you have a whole universe in your bedroom—magazine cutouts on the wall and a perfect selection of showtunes and sad music and oldies to choose from with your brand-new stereo, and two bookshelves stacked with books and a stuffed animal named Tammy and a fish named Windy who is beautiful but won’t live very long (I’m sorry. Fish often don’t).
You are uncomfortable and sad, but you don’t know why.
You have a sinking feeling in your chest.
You are scared.
You should be happier than you are, you’ve been told.
I want to tell you that these things—these feelings that are deep and wild and thick and impossible—are okay. You can have them. You don’t have to work so hard to not have them. It won’t work anyway, and trying to not have feelings only makes the bad feelings worse.
I want to tell you that worrying about being pretty enough is a thing you’re going to fight for a long time. You will fret and wonder and ask over and over in your head, every time you see yourself in a mirror or catch sight of a photograph taken of you, am I pretty? Am I pretty ENOUGH?
There is no real answer, aside from the answer that is the opposite of an answer–to stop asking the question. Pretty is a word that doesn’t mean much of anything, actually, and what I can tell you for sure is that you are smart enough and kind enough and funny enough and a good enough writer and friend and daughter and person.
Actually, you are all those enoughs even on days when you are sulky or snarky or accidentally mean or a little on-purpose mean or failing a test or getting a pimple or being awkward in a group or making a gigantic or super tiny mistake.
You are enough. There’s nothing to fight for, there’s nothing to try to make better in yourself. It’s already there.
Listen: You are not perfect.
That is the answer to the question you keep asking.
You are not perfect because no one’s perfect and no one’s expecting you to be perfect except that mean voice inside of you that you will learn how to quiet.
I want to tell you that the things you love matter, and that being alone in a closed-door room for hours on end doesn’t make you lazy or boring or selfish or uncaring. It doesn’t make you friendless or strange or pathetic or bad.
You are good at knowing what makes you happy and what you like to do. Do those things; find that happiness. Don’t listen to people who tell you to do things differently.
I want to tell you that you can trust yourself.
I want to tell you that every day for the next six years, until you leave home and move to New York, and I want to tell you that for the next fourteen years after that as you build your life there and make friends who are family and discover passions that are careers and meet boys who will become boyfriends and a boyfriend who will become a fiancé and have an apartment will become a home.
You can trust yourself.
You can trust yourself.
You can trust yourself to know when something is wrong or strange or not right or not your fault.
You can trust yourself to know what’s good and safe and right for you.
You can trust yourself to do the right thing as much of the time as an imperfect person is capable of doing and you can trust yourself to recover from the times when you don’t do the right thing.
You can trust yourself to take care of yourself.
You can trust yourself to stand up for what you believe in.
You can trust your feelings and your dreams and that little spark of strength that you think is maybe there.
You can trust yourself, because you are not just a sad girl sitting in a room wishing things were different. You are a girl who is living in a moment that doesn’t make much sense and is doing her very best to survive it.
And you can trust yourself, because, guess what? You do survive it. You really, really do.
PS: You think you are a cat person. You are not. You are a dog person.
PPS: No, you aren’t really going to grow too much taller. Sorry.
Rules for Stealing Stars can be found on IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.
In the tradition of Sharon Creech and Wendy Mass, Corey Ann Haydu’s sparkling middle grade debut is a sister story with a twist of magic, a swirl of darkness, and a whole lot of hope.
Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she’s too little for most things—especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel.
When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart.
Find more Hey Kid! letters here.
|Corey Ann Haydu is the author of OCD LOVE STORY, LIFE BY COMMITTEE, MAKING PRETTY and her middle grade debut, RULES FOR STEALING STARS. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Corey has been working in children’s publishing since 2009.|
In 2013, Corey was chosen as one of Publisher Weekly’s Flying Starts. Her books have been Junior Library Guild Selections, Indie Next Selections, and BCCB Blue Ribbon Selections.
Corey also teaches YA Novel Writing with Mediabistro and is adapting her debut novel, OCD LOVE STORY into a high school play, which will have its first run in Fall 2015.
Corey lives in Brooklyn with her dog, her fiance, and a wide selection of cheese.
Connect with Corey on twitter at @CoreyAnnHaydu.