How can young women overcome tough times, media stereotypes, and even abuse? The resilient girls whose true stories appear in The Struggle to Be Strong know what it takes. Danielle stops being stuck up and learns that beauty really is more than skin deep. So does Tonya, after she gets suckered by a beauty school, which just takes her money. Artiqua stands up to people who criticize her dating a boy from another race. Tamara describes how taking long walks helps her deal with the anger and rage that she feels. Tameka learns how to stop feeling sorry for herself and succeed in college, even though she grew up in foster care and doesn’t get any care packages or other support from home. Shaniqua overcomes her shyness and her fears to perform at a poetry slam. Paula, whose mother abused and neglected her, finds it in her heart to forgive her mom as she is dying. And Terry-Ann, like all of the girls in this book, used writing to learn about herself and become more resilient.
The girls who wrote stories that appear in The Struggle to Be Strong participated in Youth Communication's intensive teen writing program, which has helped thousands of teens explore their lives and improve their writing. Notable alumni from the program include the novelist and National Book Award finalist Edwidge Danticat, Glamour editor Veronica Chambers, New York Times reporter Rachel Swarns, and "Life Hacker" author and blogger Gina Trapani.
How do our teens write their stories? Watch this short film.
- Loretta Chan