An Open Letter to Five Feet Apart Authors

Edie Weinstein, Freelance Editor

Dear Rachel Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, and Tobias Iaconis,

Congratulations on a well-written novel.  For me, reading your Five Feet Apart was outside of my normal genres of literature, but despite my initial skepticism, I really enjoyed losing myself in the charming characters and the attention-grabbing plot line of Five Feet Apart.   I am aware that writing a novel is no small feat, especially one that deals with illness as a subject matter, so I first commend you.

However, it is not in my nature to stand idly by when I encounter a situation I disagree with.  While I found Five Feet Apart enchanting and entertaining, one theme represented really angered me.  Principally, the dynamic of Stella’s relationship with her separated parents struck me as dysfunctional.  She talked about how she needed to get better so that her parents would get back together and be happy again.  This places the blame of Stella’s parents’ separation on Stella, reinforcing the incorrect notion that children of divorce need to take care of their parents.  In fact, their parents need to take care of them.

I would even find Stella’s blaming herself for her parent’s separation acceptable if the false notion was rectified at the end, but the conclusion reinforced this fallacy.  When Stella got better, her parents got back together. The last thing that young readers, especially those with divorced families, need is an example of a young girl whose condition caused the end to her parents’ marriage.  Her parent’s reunion may seem like a harmless culmination of Stella’s conflicts, but the things we read and the ideas we are exposed to can change the way we think, even subconsciously.

I urge you to consider how your themes might affect young readers’ thoughts, not because we as teens are soft and cannot use critical thinking to make our own evaluations of the world—in fact, we are more than capable of doing so—it is because we do not need more subliminal messages put in our minds that we must uproot from our psyches in order to become healthy, well-balanced individuals.  

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I wish you all the best in your career and writing endeavors.

Sincerely,

Edie Weinstein