We all know people who are sparklers—who shine in every situation and light up a room when they arrive. For those a little less confident, it can be exciting to have a friend who makes a party happen just by being there. Sometimes,though, having a sparkler friend means you forget that you’re more than just someone reflecting another person’s light . . . that you’re also capable of shining on your own.
Serena Says arose from the idea that people who don’t see themselves as particularly shiny and story-worthy still have stories worth hearing. Serena is smart and funny but, like many people, she is content to let others in her world sparkle, while she sees herself in the reflection of their glow. Complications arise when Serena’s best friend envisions her as a person she didn’t want to be. In order to be her own person, Serena needs to learn her voice and tell her own story.
In various places throughout the novel, we see characters trying to be true to themselves and who they really are—as leaders or followers, secret-keepers or secret-tellers,as actors or reactors. Serena practices telling herself the stories of her own life on her vlog. In the world outside her laptop, her speaking up turns out to be surprisingly powerful—and in time, as she finds her courage, her words show her a self who is stronger, smarter, and brighter than she knew she was capable of being.
Whether you’re a middle grader or an adult, telling your story just might remind you that you are more brilliant than you imagined—and braver than you think.
—Tanita S. Davis
Tanita S. Davis is the award-winning author of six novels for middle grade and young adult readers, including Peas and Carrots, Happy Families, and Mare’s War, which was a Coretta Scott King Award Honor book and earned her a nomination for the NAACP Image Award. She grew up in California and was so chatty as a kid that her mother begged her to “just write it down.” Now she’s back in California, doing her best to keep writing it all down.