top of page

You're Going To Be OK

The letter below is part of an ongoing series featuring letters from authors to their teen selves. If you're a published author who'd like to participate in this series, we'd love to have you. Just click here and let us know you're interested. Today's guest is Ava Reid, author of A Study In Drowning, which comes out this Tuesday.


Dear seventeen-year-old Ava,

You don’t know this yet, but you’re going to be okay.

It’s not going to happen right away. It’s going to take years, and a lot more pain before it’s all said and done, and even when it’s over, it’ll be a long time before you really believe it. Before you trust that everything isn’t always on the verge of crumbling beneath your feet.

But here’s what I wish I could tell you:

You’re going to be able to eat without planning for it, without weighing and measuring and counting and running off to the bathroom at the end of every meal. Someday, I promise, food will bring you joy. You’ll especially love Reese’s peanut butter cups.

You’ll be able to look in the mirror and not hate what looks back at you. When your partner tells you you’re beautiful, you’ll believe them.

Yes, you’ll have a partner. And, amazingly, they’ll love you—the sharp broken bits and all.

You’ll exchange your nicotine addiction for a caffeine addiction. Sorry. It was the best I could do.

You’ll stop dyeing your hair black and ditch the goth clothes. You’ll always have a soft spot for My Chemical Romance, though.

None of your writing is a waste. Even your Hunger Games fanfiction will teach you something. Don’t quit.

And yeah, all those weird little stories, the ones you don’t think anyone but you will ever read? Well, they’re going to be published someday. They’re going to be bestsellers. They’ll even win awards. (Okay, not the Hunger Games fanfic).

Ava as a teen

But best of all: your stories are going to find the readers who need them. The readers who are locked in their own bathrooms, or fighting their own battles in front of the mirror, or wrestling their own demons, whatever forms they might take.

You feel impossibly lonely right now—I know. You feel like your whole life is some elaborate disappearing act. You think the only way to survive is to keep chiseling away at the walls, to keep digging trap doors into the floor, so that when things get too hard, you can run.

I want you to know it’s okay to feel that way. You’re doing what you can to keep yourself safe. It’s okay if you have to live with one foot in a fantasy world, because the real world is just too frightening.

Someday, you’re going to write about these feelings. And they’re going to be your best books yet.

I want you to know that you’ve done a good job so far, keeping yourself safe. You’ve been brave and strong. And someday—I promise—you’re going to do more than just survive. You’re going to laugh and smile and you’re going to mean it. You’re going to let yourself be held and loved.

(You’re also going to have a pet rabbit, which is pretty cool too. I know you always wanted one).

I know you think it will last forever. I know that when you look ahead, all you see is more of this murk and darkness. But, as Dylan Thomas said: “light is a way, and dark is a place.” If you keep going, you’ll find your way out of the dark. And I promise you, the other side is full of light.

And yet—even when it’s over, it’s never really over. The truth is, you’ll always carry a little bit of that darkness in you. But it won’t always feel like a burden, or hurt like a scar. Eventually, it will only be this: a reminder that you survived.

Just keep going.




About The Author: Ava Reid is the award-winning, internationally bestselling author of critically acclaimed adult fantasies Juniper & Thorn and The Wolf and the Woodsman, as well as the forthcoming A Study in Drowning, her young adult debut. After obtaining her degree in political science from Barnard College, she moved to Palo Alto, where she continues to haunt university libraries.


bottom of page