Pittsford library hopes to create dialog about teen drug abuse

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(Host) The Maclure Library in Pittsford is using a novel about heroin addiction and its impact on teens to jumpstart a public dialog on drug abuse.

VPR’s Nina Keck has more.

(Keck) Pittsford Librarian Bonnie Stewart says too many people think heroin addiction is a big city problem. But she says like all drug abuse, it’s everywhere.

(Stewart) "What really brought it home to me was two of my sons – they both went to Otter Valley – my son Liam had a friend of his who died of a drug overdose from heroin and another friend who had a suicide from a heroin overdose. And then my son Douglas, a fellow he went to school with was just recently arrested for dealing heroin. So it just seemed to me when I found this book that it just seemed to be the perfect opportunity to open a discussion about what’s happening in our area."

(Keck) The book she’s talking about is called Falling. It’s the latest novel by Rutland author Doug Wilhelm, who specializes in writing books for young adults. The book is actually a love story about two ninth-graders in Rutland. The boy in the story has a secret – his older brother has become addicted to heroin and the boy is afraid that if people find out, his wealthy, well respected family will be destroyed.

While he was writing the book, Wilhelm spent lots of time in Rutland area schools talking with middle school students to make sure his characters were believable. Bonnie Stewart says that comes across.

(Stewart) "The language is very real in it. You can hear kids talking in your head when you read his book and the situations in this book. The boy walking around with his I-Pod and the kids emailing each other. I just think it’s going to be very familiar to kids."

(Keck) Stewart says she used an earlier book by Wilhelm, on bullying, for a community discussion several years ago with great success. She hopes tonight’s talk will help encourage parents to listen and kids to open up about any concerns they have about drugs.

(Stewart) "It’s not easy for the kids – it’s not easy what’s going on. I can see here at the library that they just really want someone to listen to what they’re saying and so I guess that’s what I’m hoping for."

(Keck) She says sometimes you just need to create the right environment for that to happen.

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Pittsford.

(Host) The Pittsford community book discussion begins tonight at 6 at Otter Valley Union High School. A pizza dinner will be served.

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