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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Author Nic Stone will take Northwest Passages stage to talk about teen mental health and stigmas

Nic Stone is writing the kinds of stories that she wishes were on the shelves when she was a kid.

Stone is perhaps best known for writing young adult books, but she is not limited to one genre. She writes novels for children, along with essays, podcasts and even writing the Shuri novels in the Marvel Universe. Her talents engage an audience that stretches far beyond the young adult crowd.

In 2017, when asked in an interview how reading helped develop her writing style, Stone said: “I really only started writing because I was dissatisfied with the reading options available to me. The lack of books featuring people who looked like me, grappling with situations I was familiar with, bothered me to no end, so I decided to try and write the stories I felt were missing.”

What she felt was missing were realistic stories with diverse characters dealing with social issues relevant today. 

“Dear Martin,” Stone’s first published novel in 2017, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, examined race relations.  After debuting at #4 on the New York Times Bestseller list and returning to the list for New York Times for Young Adult Paperbacks in 2020, the sequel “Dear Justyce” was written and published in 2022.

The storyline of “Odd One Out” triangulates around high school social status, self-development and LGBTQ issues.

Economic inequality and class privilege make up the underlying tone of “Jackpot: All Bets Are Off.”

Stone’s latest novel, “Chaos Theory,” takes aim at the stigma society projects on teenagers who struggle to handle their mental health.

No subject is off limits. Prior to “Chaos Theory,” Stone collaborated with Ibram X. Kendi on “How to Be A (Young) Anti-Racist” to deliberately connect and explain to a younger audience how to understand the world they are in, and empower them to be agents of change. 

“Young people want this information. We have both been heavily banned in all kinds of places, specifically in middle and high schools, and the kids are really pissed off about that, to be honest. And I think that they are wanting to know how to make this world they inhabit better,” she said last year at an event sponsored by the Kalamazoo, Mich., Public Library.

Stone believes that sharing our stories is essential in the advocacy of racial and social justice, and the messaging in books we read shapes the way we see the world.  Her work on “Chaos Theory” further reflects the way current culture reacts to “mental illness,” a phrase she states in the introduction that she truly “loooooathes.”

In her Instagram announcement prior to “Chaos Theory” publication, Stone shared:

“I have so much to say about this book, I don’t actually have adequate words. So I’ll just give a little background: this is the second book I ever wrote. I tried to sell it as my debut in 2015, but it wasn’t the right time, so Dear Martin got proposed and published first instead.

As a Black person who is living with - and has been medicated for - a couple of mental illness diagnoses, creating accurate and well-vetted representation of Black kids with “abnormal brain chemistry” (Pffffft!) is of paramount importance to me.

And BLACK is important here. Because yes: while mental health experiences are SUPER individualized in general, our racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds absolutely impact the way we experience the world and therefore how our brains function within it.

And stigma sucks.

Anyway, I hope you all love this book as much as I do. It is hard and digs deep, and is also swoony and romantic (well… in MY way of doing things ). It is me at my rawest and most vulnerable, truly.”