Author highlights depression and mental health in visit to Medina

Provided photo: Pictured from left include Julie Berry, Bree Barton and Medina High School librarian Jennifer O’Toole.

Posted 2 May 2022 at 12:11 pm

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – Medina Junior-Senior High School recently played host to author Bree Barton. She has penned four books: Heart of Thorns, Tears of Frost, Soul of Cinder and her latest Zia Erases the World.

High School librarian Jennifer O’Toole invited Barton and Julie Berry, from the Author’s Note bookstore, to talk to 7th graders in the library on April 28th. Ms. Barton talked with the students about her experiences with depression and how she started experiencing those feelings in the 6th grade.

“It came on very suddenly and in the ’90s nobody was really talking about mental health,” she said. “It is a very confusing situation for kids and I am hoping by sharing my story, it may be helpful to students here.”

Her experience with depression inspired her book Zia Erases the World. The story centers on Zia and her challenge of finding the right words for the fear that is growing inside of her. She settles on a word of her own making: Shadoom.

When she stumbles upon a family heirloom: the C. Scuro Dictionary, 13th edition, she realizes in its magical pages she has the ability to erase words that remind her of Shadoom. The consequences of her actions has some funny and heartbreaking moments, but ultimately allows her to get help and overcome her dark moments and reach for the light.

She shared with the students what her life was like in the sixth grade and the challenges she faced as a child of a single mom who moved almost every year.

“I was not cool,” Barton told the students. “We were poor and I wore hand-me-down clothing. I was depressed and very sad. I spent a lot of time in the library because books are a great way to escape. I started writing fantasy when I was 10 years old and submitting my stories to editors when I was 11. I got a lot of rejection notices. When some mean girls at school made fun of me, I quit writing for quite a while because their comments really hurt me.”

She eventually began writing again in high school.

“I had a tough time, but eventually I found a way back to myself and I had my mom and other adults that I could talk to about what I was feeling and they helped me,” she said. “I took up dancing and getting healthier physically helped me to get healthier mentally.”

She read a chapter from Zia and also discussed with the students what it is like to be an author and her journey as a writer. She also answered questions from the students.

“It was a pleasure to host Bree and to learn more about her background and the inspiration for her work,” O’Toole said. “I think her honesty and life story was relatable and truly resonated with our students. I am thrilled to be working with Julie Berry and the Author’s Note bookstore to bring authors in-person to speak with Medina students. It’s such a valuable, worthwhile and fun learning experience for students to take part in.”