What is What Happened to David about?
What Happened to David provides a new twist on what it’s like to be bullied. It tells the story of what it’s like to stand up for yourself and then get sent to an alternative school because of it.
In What Happened to David, 15-year-old Mary tells us how she was bullied, victimized and unfairly sent from a magnet school to a tough alternative school where she met David, another victim of an unfair system. Their love grows as they adapt to their new school. Just as she starts to feel safe, Mary’s past returns with tragic consequences. This is a story about violence, young love, obsession, belonging, loss, and survival at school.
Can a book about an alternative school be useful to all students or is it only for those who have been in trouble?
This book is for everyone. This is a book about survival and dealing with loss. Those challenges happen in everyone’s lives and at every school. The fictional people and situations described in the book were inspired by real world experiences at over 35 different schools over 25 years. This book can also be useful for the child who is being bullied or for schools dealing with bullying. It could be given to or studied with parents as an example of how difficult it is to deal with bullies.
Where did you get the idea for What Happened to David?
I taught at an alternative school for 20 years. I realized that there were no books written about my students. I wanted to tell their story. I wanted this to be a gift to all those kids who worked hard to prove that an alternative school really can be an oasis of second chances.
What does What Happened to David tell us about the kinds of kids who get sent to alternative schools?
It tells us that any or all kinds of kids can wind up in an alternative school. Some are damaged beyond repair, but most are those children who simply need a break or a second chance. As Cosmo, a friend of David and Mary’s, said, “We’re not bad but somewhere along the way we made some foolish choice, broke some special rule and got caught. That got us sent here… [to an alternative school].”
What kind of book is What Happened to David?
What Happened to David is an allegorical work of fiction. On one level it is a simple, fast-paced teen/young adult love story. On a deeper level it is a series of philosophies, life lessons and survival techniques for school and the world outside of school. And finally, it is a stew of hidden and not so hidden cultural references from ancient Greek myth to classical literature, from comic books to rhythm and blues, from political satire to science fiction cinema and beyond!
What do you want people to take away from What Happened to David?
First and foremost I want people to be entertained. Then I want people to begin to develop a deeper understanding of how very complex and frustrating the problems of bullying and student achievement really are. I want to help people understand that there are seldom easy answers or quick fixes no matter what the pundits or politicians say. I want people to have faith that life goes on even in the face of loss. We can’t control what the world does to us. We can only control how we react to it.