By Ronni Davis
When I started writing When the Stars Lead to You, I knew that I wanted my main character to be a biracial—specifically black and white—girl. After years of never seeing anyone who looked like me in media, I wanted that representation on the page. And more importantly, I wanted to see her in love, and I wanted to see her being loved. And Devon loves deeply. She loves the stars, she loves her family and friends, and she loves the boy, even when he breaks her heart.
What I didn’t expect, until I got into the story, was that I needed to be seen a different way as well. Mental illness is being portrayed in more and more books, but there was a long time that I didn’t see people with depression being treated fairly in media. And as someone with depression, I often feel unlovable. To have my favorite TV shows reinforce that feeling was heartbreaking. So, I needed to show Ashton—my character with depression—being deeply loved, even when he thinks he doesn’t deserve it.
And I wanted these two people, whose marginalizations often don’t have good representation, to love each other.
In When the Stars Lead to You Devon, who is an aspiring astrophysicist, comes from a middle class family. But when she compares herself to the white, wealthy classmates at her private school (which she attends on scholarship), she worries about her chances of not only getting accepted to her dream college, but affording it. And while proud of her identity, she is also aware of the little things people say and do that make her feel less than. And meanwhile, Ashton seems to have everything going for him. Looks, wealth, connections. He almost always gets what he wants, except the Dark won’t go away no matter how much he wishes it would. He struggles with depression, which constantly threatens to take over his life.
But When the Stars Lead to You is about so much more than marginalizations. It’s about second chances and learning when to let go. It’s about forgiveness and family and chasing your dreams, and learning to love yourself, and believing that you deserve to do so.
The people in When the Stars Lead to You aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They’re messy. They try to take control in a world where that control is often out of reach. Maybe they don’t always get it right, but they try.
I still struggle with being OK with just trying. I needed to show people being OK with trying in When the Stars Lead to You because I need to see it. And this book is for those who need to see it as well.
It’s okay to keep trying. It’s okay to keep learning. It’s okay to get help.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: suicidepreventionlifeline.org
– In a crisis, call their free and 24/7 U.S. hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
– Contact their Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741-741
• National Hopeline Network: hopeline.com |1-800-442-HOPE (4673)
• American Association of Suicidology: suicidology.org
• American Foundation For Suicide Prevention: afsp.org
• Suicide Prevention Resource Center: sprc.org
• IMAlive: imalive.org
• The Trevor Project: thetrevorproject.org
For Suicide Loss Survivors
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors: allianceofhope.org
American Association of Suicidology survivors page:
Friends for Survival: friendsforsurvival.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline survivors page:
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: save.org
Understanding Mental Illness
Ronni Davis grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where she tried her best to fit in—and failed miserably. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology, she worked in insurance, taught yoga, and became a cat mom.
Now she lives in Chicago with her husband Adam and her son Aidan. By day she copyedits everything from TV commercials to billboards, and by night she writes contemporary teen novels about brown girls falling in love. When she’s not writing, you can catch her playing The Sims or Animal Crossing, eating too much candy, or planning her next trip to Disney World.
Her debut novel, When the Stars Lead to You, was released by Little Brown Books for Young Readers in November 2019, and the anthology You Too?, in which she is a contributor, is available now from Inkyard Press.