Praise for Advice to 9th Graders

“These student artists opened their hearts and minds to generate a world they want to see beyond themselves, rather than retreat into themselves. This is truly courageous and contagious inspiration!”
—Dr. Emily Salisbury, Director, Utah Criminal Justice Center

“The writing within these pages is wise, tender, ageless, and often very funny and holds lessons—truly, remarkably—for any passage in life.”
—Jeff Hobbs, author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace and Children of the State

“To see the struggles and pain of having an incarcerated parent conveyed so clearly reminds me how much more we can do to combat the devastating impact of mass incarceration. This book shines in its enduring message of hope and resilience.”
—Joshua Martoma, cofounder, KidsMates Inc.

Advice to 9th Graders is painfully beautiful. . . .  I was pleasantly surprised by the level of emotions evoked as I read. The words focus on some of life’s greatest lessons that we often are not taught but unfortunately stumble upon. I felt the magic of the words seep into my soul.”
—Dr. Shanell Sanchez, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Oregon University

“Maya Angelou once said, ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’ This sentiment perfectly captures the essence of the remarkable collection of stories found within Advice to 9th Graders. The advice shared within these pages not only is riveting and powerful but also has the potential to transform lives. I wholeheartedly applaud every young person who contributed their experiences, and I firmly believe that this book is an absolute must-read.”
—Tige Charity, CEO and Executive Director, Kids in the Spotlight

“What struck me most about the teenage writers in the anthology Advice to 9th Graders is their unconditional and uninhibited honesty. They don’t just give advice. They chart a path past pain and betrayals as they acknowledge their own struggles with shame and identity and belonging. Their greatest message is their example: ‘We got through it and you can too. You’re not alone.’”
—Diane Lefer, author of Out of Place and with Hector Aristizábal, The Blessing Next to the Wound

“This anthology is another soulful, weighted bundle of truth and dreams encouraged, gathered, and curated by POPS, still doing the sacred work of supporting young people who have been wounded by the incarceration of someone they love. This collection of stories and poems from the wound, framed as advice for younger peers, feels like a rite of passage from harm to hope, which is something we all need. Whatever has come before, it is not the sum total of what defines us. There is so much possibility ahead. Bravo.”
—Jonathan Zeichner, nonprofit founder and leader, Los Angeles

“These raw and vulnerable voices may be young in age, but their piercing insights reflect hard-earned wisdom through their unique experiences and perspectives. They will beam a light through your mind and heart.”
—Karin Gutman, founder of Spirit of Story, Inc.

“The wisdom and the insight of these young people never ceases to amaze me. Incarceration, detention, and deportation can all be deeply isolating experiences. Not only do they upend so many aspects of one’s life, but an extra level of stigma and silence often comes in the wake of these traumas. That is why the POPS the Club publications are so remarkable. The books combat that isolation and silence with community and conversation. And in many of the pieces included in Advice to 9th Graders, young people speak directly to each other, advising and affirming those with shared lived experiences, while informing and enthralling those who don’t have those experiences. Advice to 9th Graders fills a void, shines light into dark corners, and provides hope in the most unexpected moments. Bravo, POPS!”
—Lauren Marks, author of A Stitch of Time