… the project to inspire hope for kids and teens who are harassed because they are (or people assume they are) gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender? It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living is a collection of essays edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller. High school is hard for everyone, but it’s even worse if you’re different in some way. After several teens who were gay or were perceived to be gay committed suicide in 2010, Dan Savage wanted to reach out to other kids who felt hopeless. He and his partner, Terry Miller, made a video about how terrible high school was and how much better their lives have gotten since then, and they put it on YouTube. They hoped to get one hundred videos like theirs. They got thousands.
People from all over the world wrote about their experiences and offered encouragement in this book. The essays are short, many only a page or two. They have to be to fit the dozens and dozens of stories and words of hope that people wanted to share. The writers come from all walks of life – politicians, business people, entertainers, religious leaders, educators, scientists, students, and many others. Some are famous, and others are everyday people. They may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise “different;” or they may be supportive of those who are. All of them want to encourage kids and teens not to give up. Life is hard, and sometimes it feels like the bullying will never end. However, it got better for everyone in this book – they made new friends, got tougher, found support, got away from the bullies, fell in love. It wasn’t always easy, but it did get better for them, and it can get better for you.
This is not an easy book to read. Many of the contributors suffered abuse, bullying, and depression. Some attempted suicide because they didn’t think they could keep going. However, they all talk about the importance of staying strong and believing that life will improve. Now they’re able to give others the encouragement and hope that they wish they had had. While much of the book is aimed at LGBT teens, the message applies to all teens who are having trouble. Share this book with people who need that help, or read it to learn what you can do to make a difference for someone else.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)