Shattered Childhoods: Realistic Violence and YA Fiction

Friday, October 16th, 1:00 pm

As YA grows it becomes more and more honest about the very real violence teenagers face or face the threat of every day. Whether this violence is racialized, gendered, or seemingly random, these authors haven’t been afraid to tackle it and they’re here to discuss how trauma, fiction, and reality interact on the YA page. Featuring Tiffany D. Jackson (Grown), Kim Johnson (This Is My America), and Bryan Bliss (Thoughts & Prayers).

Replay of this event is available throughout 2020!

Purchase books by these authors from Red Balloon Bookshop!

photo by Andrew Fennell

Tiffany D. Jackson is the critically-acclaimed author of YA novels including the Coretta Scott King and John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning Monday’s Not Coming, the NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly, and Let Me Hear A Rhyme. Her newest title, Grown (Katherine Tegen Books), was called one of “the best thrillers for teens these days” in a Booklist starred review. She received her Bachelor of Arts in film from Howard University, her Master of Arts in media studies from the New School, and has over a decade in TV/Film experience. Jackson lives in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more

photo by JBoy Photography

As a teen, Kim Johnson held multiple leadership positions in social justice organizations. She’s now a college administrator who maintains civic engagement throughout the community while mentoring Black student activists and leaders. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and the University of Maryland, College Park. Her debut novel, This Is My America (Random House Books for Young Readers), explores racial injustice against innocent Black men who are criminally sentenced and the families left behind to pick up the pieces. Published in July, the book has been hailed by Kirkus as “Harrowing and worthwhile; a call-to-action from the anti-racist insights of a generation of black activists.” Johnson lives in Oregon with her husband and two kids. Find her online at

Bryan Bliss is the author of the National Book Award longlist title We’ll Fly Away, as well as Meet Me Here and No Parking at the End Times. His newest YA novel, Thoughts & Prayers (Greenwillow Books)is being hailed as “an affecting story of trauma and healing” (Kirkus Reviews). His nonfiction has been published in Image Journal, along with various other newspapers, magazines, and blogs. He holds master’s degrees in theology and fiction and has worked as a curriculum designer and developer and as a youth pastor. Bliss lives with his family in St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit him online at

Linda Stack-Nelson is the editorial assistant at Rain Taxi and the exhibit coordinator for the Twin Cities Book Festival. She received bachelors’ degrees in Literature and International Studies from the University of Oklahoma, where she worked with World Literature Today, before moving home to Minnesota. She is passionate about helping innovative and astute books reach young readers, and also works as a bookseller at Wild Rumpus Books. She is an Assistant Editrix of Fiction for Storm Cellar Quarterly as well as a contributor to other publications.