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NC Author Takes On Addiction, Class And Identity In New Young Adult Novel

Sarah Dessen is a North Carolina native and UNC alum.
Seth Abel
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North Carolina native and author Sarah Dessen reads the obituaries in The News & Observer every day. Over the last few years she noticed more young people showing up in those pages with no explanations about the cause of death.

She realized these were the hidden stories about the opioid epidemic — and they became the inspiration for her latest young adult novel, “The Rest of the Story” (Balzer + Bray/2019). The protagonist, Emma Saylor, was 11 when her mother died of an opioid overdose. Now, she is a teenager spending the summer with her mother’s family and learning about a new side of her family — and herself.

Guest host Anita Rao talks to Dessen about her latest novel, how the young adult genre has changed over the last two decades and about Emma Saylor’s crisis of identity.

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Amanda Magnus grew up in Maryland and went to high school in Baltimore. She became interested in radio after an elective course in the NYU journalism department. She got her start at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, but she knew public radio was for her when she interned at WNYC. She later moved to Madison, where she worked at Wisconsin Public Radio for six years. In her time there, she helped create an afternoon drive news magazine show, called Central Time. She also produced several series, including one on Native American life in Wisconsin. She spends her free time running, hiking, and roller skating. She also loves scary movies.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
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