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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

It Gets Better

In September 2010, Dan Savage and Terry Miller posted a video on YouTube encouraging GLBT young people facing harassment and bullying to hope, to believe that life will get better. That first video spawned many, many others by celebrities and non-celebrities alike. If you haven’t visited yet, click over to the YouTube It Gets Better Project channel. The introductory video provides a good overview, and includes information about the book.

Already, publication of the book is increasing visibility and publicity for the project in mainstream media. For example, Time Magazine just published 10 Questions for Dan Savage, and I opened the March 25th Entertainment Weekly book section to find a half page devoted to the book and celebrity quotes to be found within.

Dan Savage will be the Opening General Session speaker at ALA Annual in New Orleans on Friday, June 24 at 4pm. This program immediately precedes the popular all-conference reception on the exhibit floor — if you can get to ALA early enough, it should be well worth attending.

Surely we can’t do enough to prevent the tragedy of teen suicide, and I hope every library serving teens will make this book available to their readers.

SAVAGE, Dan & Terry Miller, eds. It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. 338p. Dutton. 2011. Tr $21.95. ISBN 978-0-525-95233-6. LC number unavailable.

It Gets Better

Adult/High School–Adolescence can be a harsh and lonely journey for anyone, but the alienation and torment directed toward GBLTQ teens can be particularly soul crushing. Although the publicity surrounding the suicides of gay teens brings momentary attention to the issue, the dominant religious/political mores of current society make it very difficult to offer personal guidance and support to gay teens. Savage was particularly frustrated by this impasse until he came upon the idea of using YouTube to address teens directly. With his husband, Terry Miller, Savage posted a video clip with a simple message: “Hang in there, it gets better.” Less than a year later, the It Gets Better Project ( has burst into a ringing chorus of affirmation, with video clips by President Barack Obama, openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, Ellen DeGeneres, and countless famous and not-so-famous voices speaking out. The book is addictive, filled with many unique viewpoints, all recollecting the dark days of adolescence that preceded their adult transformations. Don’t listen when they tell you that homosexuality is wicked and unnatural, these voices say. Don’t believe it when they tell you that you will never have a family or friends. And certainly don’t allow yourself to think that your life is so bleak that you would be better off dead, because there is so much happiness ahead that you won’t want to miss. This book is a must-have for middle and high school libraries. In fact, the It Gets Better Project is encouraging people to buy a copy to donate to their local schools, so many librarians may find themselves gifted with this inspirational volume.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


  1. Mark Flowers says:

    I remember reading the column where Dan shared the original idea with readers and thinking: wow, that could be really cool. It’s kind of amazing how much of a phenomenon it has become.

    Question: is the book transcriptions of the youtube videos, or brand new testimonials written for the book?

  2. Diane Colson says:

    Without checking all the excerpts, I found that the chapters entitled. “A Message From…” seemed to be transcripts from the videos. These were primarily the words of President Obama or Hilary Clinton…famous folks. There are a lot more videos since the books was published, including a number of corporations that chose to participate. Adam Lambert looks especially cool in his video! So the project is continuing to gain a tremendous momentum. Hopefully the book will direct more teens towards tuning in.