Feeling alone in anxiety or grief? Feeling like you might be rejected for being who you are? This is the book for you! In her recent book In Your Shoes, Donna Gephart nails the adolescent experience once more, masterfully weaving together the potentially isolating experiences of grief, physical difference, being new to town, and being a self-focused adolescent.
Gephart places together an adolescent who is required to relocate to a new town with a highly anxious local and his peers. She allows each character to have strengths and flaws, brilliantly outlining the human experience, and absolutely capturing that tricky adolescent period of development. She even allows the teen characters to actually attempt to garner some insight about their parents and grandparents, something I rarely see in literature, but is certainly happening in the real world.
Gephart’s characters illustrate the adolescent desire to stand out, blend in, be included, be inclusive, and yet feel all alone all in the same breath. Gephart clearly understands grief and anxiety, allowing her characters to share the nuances of both, the isolating potential of both, and the bond that can occur when people allow themselves to grieve together. I particularly noted the anxiety thread that wove together the characters – the nuanced expression of anxiety, the level of self-awareness, and also the lack of awareness regarding how anxiety impacts social bonding and relationships. Though I wish she had added more in about physical difference, I suspect her level of revelation matches life: people want to know more, but social graces prevent us from prying too deeply. (Unless you are a psychologist, in which case, you get to ask all the questions! And sometimes your clients thank you for actually asking about their lived experiences.)
As I recently learned, if you email Gephart, she emails you back! Maybe you want to share your experiences of grief or anxiety, allowing you to bond instead of living in isolation:) Maybe you have your own In Your Shoes experience to share.