13 Reasons Why

If you enjoyed the novel or the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, you will want to read Julie Butler’s debut novel entitled Paper Girl. Butler’s novel exposes the perfect storm of cruelty, misunderstanding, and manipulation that contributes to a young girl’s unspoken raw pain. The music of Kurt Cobain is central to the book’s story line.

Butler is a long-time fan of Kurt Cobain, the front man of the group Nirvana. She, like millions of others, understands what it’s like to feel “stupid and contagious” (lyrics from Nirvana’s teen anthem, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”). Although the author understands all too well the debilitating power of “The Bully,” as she refers to depression in the novel, she has spent many hours combing articles and Cobain biographies in an attempt to understand his specific pain and where it may have begun. How did Cobain’s illness and addiction develop and ultimately cause him to end his own life?

Paper Girl will make you feel Nikki’s pain. You will cheer for her on every page. You will understand how cruelty and the inability to fully be yourself in the world contributes to unbearable pain for those who are paying attention. In a way, the author is a bit envious of those who don’t notice the homeless or the elderly. At times she has wished to be unfeeling and oblivious to the ways in which people cause harm to one another. Below is a quote from Michael Stipe during Nirvana’s induction to the Hall of Fame.

“It is the highest calling for an artist…to expose our struggles, our aspirations, our desires…Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl were Nirvana…Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders: for the fags; for the fat girls for the broken toys; the shy nerds; the Goth kids from Tennessee and Kentucky; for the rockers and the awkward; for the fed-up; the too-smart kids and the bullied.” (Michael Stipe)

Paper Girl

I just received the most amazing complement on my recently-released novel, “Paper Girl.” A teacher from Tennessee tells me that the story has changed the way she looks at her students! First, let me say I am both flattered and honored by this statement. I wrote the story from a place of love and empathy for teenagers.  Secondly, I want to say how grateful I am to teachers. These human angels pour their hearts and minds into teaching and encouraging the young people of the world to reach for their dreams. I am grateful for these wonderful people who do so much for the young, thereby investing in the world’s future.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Treat others with kindness. Everyone you meet is fighting some type of battle.” The protagonist in my novel, “Paper Girl” is 15, and she fights against clinical depression and perfection every day of her life. She also has other tough battles to fight at school and at home.

The power of kindness is stronger than darkness. You just never know how far a little kindness in the form of inclusiveness can go. See someone at school sitting by himself? Why not say, “Hi,” or invite him to join you for lunch. Like his shirt? Tell him!

Kindness goes a very long way in boosting an otherwise-lonely person’s day. You don’t have to solve all of the person’s problems, but you can at least be kind and realize that they are probably fighting some type of battle. These battles could be big or small, but they are still battles. Things like: feeling misunderstood; loneliness; perhaps being bullied by another student or even a sibling; stresses at home with parents’ divorce or financial problems; concerns over a grandparent’s health; sadness over the loss of a family pet. There are any number of battles we fight on a daily basis. Be purposeful and notice a person who needs kindness today.