“Everyone should be able to learn from their actions.”
The young adult novel Levi – Can I Stay if I Go? by Gabriel Peter Henry was published in 2019 by the sustainable publisher Matabooks. The inside pages of the book are made of sweetgrass paper, a sustainable alternative to conventional paper. We spoke to the author to find out more about his motivations for the story, in which disappointment and self-reliance play a major role.
matabooks: How did you come up with the idea for Ryan and Levi’s story?
Gabriel P. Henry: I heard about a boy who was bullied because he was friends with a younger boy. This idea kind of grew out of that and kept building on each other in the details.
Among other things, the book is about finding the courage to stand up for one’s own values and, if necessary, to go against one’s friends. Have you had experiences with this yourself, have you been in this situation yourself?
Probably everyone has been confronted with this decision at least once. I myself can still remember one or two things where I didn’t necessarily make myself popular with friends at the time, but I was sure that the way I acted was right.
Self-reflection is also an important message of the book. What does that mean to you? What do you want to convey to [your readers]?
Everyone should be able to learn from their actions. A person can change fundamentally in a short time, sometimes all it takes is a certain trigger that may even seem inconspicuous. I have to ask myself how I would appear to myself if I met myself and didn’t know it. If I don’t like the way my other self-talks to me, I should also change it towards others.
Did you also include your own experiences in the book?
That’s probably what every author does in each of his works. Sometimes less, sometimes more.