Balancing Act: At Lit Fest, Conversations About Love, Healing And Surviving Horrific Violence

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Heidi Stevens invites us all to a conversation she will be hosting with three authors at next weekend’s 34th annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest.

Chicago Tribune

I’m about to come face-to-face with a whole lot of courage, and I hope you can join me.

Next weekend, June 9-10, is the 34th annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest, a celebration of words and the people who make a living from them.

I’ll be in conversation with three authors: David Levithan, who is receiving the Tribune’s Young Adult Literary Award, Michelle Knight, author of “Life After Darkness,” and Winnie M Li, author of “Dark Chapter.”

Levithan, a champion for diversity in teen literature, is the author of “Boy Meets Boy,” “Two Boys Kissing” and, most recently, “Sam & Isla’s Last Hurrah.” He was supposed to receive our award at last year’s Lit Fest, but he suffered a torn cornea and had to cancel.

I fell in love with Levithan’s writing after reading his 2012 novel, “Every Day,” which tells the story of A, a gentle and generous character who wakes up each morning in the body of a different 16-year-old and stays there for just one day.

“We all contain mysteries,” A explains, “especially when seen from the inside.”

Which brings us to Knight and Li, whose books take us inside their own heads and hearts in the wake of deeply painful experiences. I’ll be interviewing them together.

From left to right, ‘Dark Chapter,’ by Winnie M Li, ‘Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah’ by David Levithan and ‘Life After Darkness’ by Michelle Knight. (Polis Books/Knopf Books for Young Readers/Hachette Books)

Knight, who now goes by Lily Rose Lee, was kidnapped and held captive for 11 years by Ariel Castro, who beat, raped and impregnated her repeatedly. She was 21 when she was taken by Castro. It’s been five years since she was released.

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