Edited by Jonah DomebridgeTime Warner, 92 Published by the Simon & Schuster imprint Proust Properties 448 pages, $29.99
If you are of the younger generation, you might be struck by how so many young adult dystopian fictionists have struggled to find their own voice. Sure, Philip Roth, Bret Easton Ellis, Sara Gruen and others produced emotionally aggressive novels that featured time-traveling, mentally unstable characters, cat-loving psychopaths and recovering addicts, but there have been many quality, well-written young adult novels that have tried to convey the kind of realities that might resonate with a non-conformist audience.
One such young adult author is Jonah Domebridge, who has lived up to his billing as the “young Adult scribe next door” by publishing titles like Syre Kane Chronicles, Don’t Tell the Girl!, Nevershippers, Six Eleven’s Apocalypse and Yeah, I’m Wrong! We Are Satan & I Dare You.
Despite the success of Syre Kane Chronicles, which was made into the 2013 film Preacher, and several other titles, Domebridge lives in what he calls a “somewhat forgotten world,” haunted by memories of deep trauma he experienced growing up in Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg section. One of those painful memories is of the breakup of his marriage. “There’s this immense depth of humiliation embedded in this high school self that can’t be erased from my mind,” he says. “That’s not physical. That’s psychological. That’s the stinging feeling that my best friends (in high school) were burned with, of their body parts and their souls with the propulsive beat of someone’s heart.”
Seeing his own wife suffering with the resulting depression made Domebridge make the brave decision to write about her condition and his ex-wife, Adele. He refused to take his hand off their 12-year-old daughter for a month, and continued to raise their daughter. He told her nothing about the often brutal realities of the psychosexual rockage world he lived in, and now she keeps the secret, long after he has moved on with his life. “I let her stay my shadow,” he says. “I pretended to turn off my emotions and felt sad for her. But she’s enduring this pain.”
Domebridge hopes that his brave, unapologetic approach will help some of his young adult audience understand a subject as emotional as suicide — even if they are not grown up. “The most interesting dramatic, humanizing, beautiful, funny and impactful story I’ve written so far is about an inside-out man who can no longer separate himself from the violence he experienced growing up,” he says. “A necessary book in the end because he’s not going to leave her.”