#teensexting | #sexting | ’Voice to the kids’: Retired Dover teacher’s novel focuses on impact of parents’ drug addiction – News – fosters.com

Retired Dover Middle School teacher Maryjo Paradis-Smith learned about the seriousness of the state’s opioid abuse problem by talking to her students.

“Every year I taught at the middle school I had kids either living in a foster home or living with grandparents because either one or both of their parents were addicted to opioids,” Paradis-Smith said during an interview this week.

The former teacher, who spent 34 years working in Dover public schools, said she heard “so many stories” about what drugs were doing to kids’ lives.

“Kids kept telling me stories about somebody whose mom or dad was addicted to opioids or who even had died from using opioids,” she said. “It was just a myriad of things.”

The stories she heard inspired her to write a novel called “July in August: One Girl’s Struggle with an Opioid Addicted Mother.”

Her first novel focuses on the story of 12-year-old July Krativitiz, whose mother is addicted to opioids, Paradis-Smith said.

At one point during the story, “July finds her mom’s drugs and her mom goes crazy,” she said. “July realizes then that she has to take care of her 2-year-old brother Abe.”

Mary White, an elderly neighbor, offers to help July, but she ends up kidnapping the children to a faraway lake house, Paradis-Smith said about the book’s plot.

The story takes place in the fictitious town of Maplewood, New Hampshire.

“But if you know Dover, you’ll know it’s Dover,” she said.

Not only did the stories she heard from her students about drug use inspire her to write the novel, she also relied on their feedback to help shape the book.

“I had so many kids probably the last two to three years help me with the story,” Paradis-Smith said.

Paradis-Smith, who retired in June, recalled reading portions of her book to some middle school students she was struggling to reach.

“They did the whole revision process with me, including kids who had some of the same issues in their lives,” she said.

When she finished her first draft, “I read it to them and they gave me really great feedback.”

“I added the ending based on things the kids told me,” Paradis-Smith said. “It was an amazing process. I just felt a huge connection with the kids.”

For each chapter head, she “used the headline from newspapers in New Hampshire about the opioid crisis.”

“I just wanted to bring voice to the kids,” she added.

She has learned so much from her students about many subjects.

“Things like what really is happening to kids today, as far as sexting and eating disorders,” Paradis-Smith said. “I have so many stories that I really want to start getting them out there.”

“July in August” is her first novel.

“It’s hard to put yourself out there, it really is hard, but I knew I had to do it, and it’s really honest,” she said of the novel. “The story pretty much wrote itself.”

You can find the paperbook version of the novel on Amazon by searching “July in August.”


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