In a world of Harry Potters and vampires, finding stories that teenagers can relate to can be difficult.
But Dearborn High alumna Bethany Lopez (class of 1993) has taken on that challenge, and created a series of books for young adults that speaks specifically to Dearborn teens.
The Stories about Melissa series focuses on the trials of high school through the eyes of a Dearborn High student. The first two in the series–Ta Ta for Now! and xoxoxo–run readers through Melissa’s freshman year as a Pioneer. Book three, Ciao, will start in the summer and begin her time as a sophomore.
Its expected release date is in August.
Lopez, who now lives in Los Angeles and holds a day job as an Air Force recruiter, said she started the books as a hobby while her husband, also in the armed services, was deployed in Jordan.
“It started out for fun,” she explained. “I’ve always loved to write and read, but you never actually think you’re going to write a book.”
It helped that inspiration was always around her.
When Lopez began writing the Stories about Melissa series, her daughters were 14 and 12. Surprisingly, as they read her book, they found that mom could really relate to what they were going through.
“I was around teenagers all the time,” said Lopez with a laugh, adding that she had to find creative ways to speak to them. “I tried to put messages out there for kids without trying to lecture or preach.”
For youth in Dearborn, the books have particular resonance, mentioning local football games, Fairlane Mall, and other Dearborn hangouts–like the Henry Ford Estate, where Melissa and her friends love to go to take photos.
“Dearborn was home and where I went to high school, so I was drawing on some of my own experiences and I thought it would be fun to put myself back in that place,” Lopez explained. “And almost all of my family is still in Michigan. I was going back to those feelings I had and the places I knew.”
In Ciao, Melissa and her friends have fun at the Dearborn Homecoming festival as summer ends and they prepare to go back to school–a feeling almost every local teen can relate to.
And Lopez hopes they do relate.
“It could be any one of them, or a friend,” she said. “It makes it more relatable and easier for them to put themselves in it when it’s places they know–local spots.”
The series is available on Amazon, and can also be purchased as an ebook. Dearborn High students can also find a few copies in the school’s library.