Elizabeth Ababio could have been cruel right back to the bullies who taunted her.
Or, she could have cowered.
Instead, “Lizzie” got creative and penned her feelings in the hopes that others would heed her message of how anyone can overcome adversity.
“I think [the bullying] started in Grade 4, but I never realized it,” she recalls. “Either I ignored it or I just didn’t notice. People were laughing whenever I walked in the room.”
Elizabeth felt so tormented that she started faking illness to avoid going to school.
Luckily, she was able to talk to her mom and a counsellor at her school about her plight.
“I’ve always looked to my mom for support – as well as teachers that I trust – and family,” she says.
Now, whenever she senses she is being bullied, Elizabeth stands up for herself and it stops immediately.
The 16-year-old Frank Hurt Secondary student has written a book titled Problems: BFF.
“It just came from a bunch of stories that my mind put together,” Elizabeth says.
Adolescent love is the central theme of her manuscript. Conflict arises in the novel in the form of a love triangle.
A teenage girl, Sam, discovers she has feelings for her best friend Derek. That’s when Mandy shows up and tries to steal Derek away. Sam then pulls out all the stops to thwart the budding romance.
The book also contains a sub-plot about a principal who doesn’t like one particular student.
Elizabeth says the story is entirely fictional and is not based on events in her life.
And in her mind, the novel is set in and around Surrey – even though there are no specific identifying factors.
Did watching movies or observing her peers help develop the book’s characters?
“Probably,” she says.
Elizabeth also informally polled her friends during and after school about what their biggest problems were as teenagers.
The top concern?
“If we would find a boyfriend,” says Elizabeth.
“We decided it’s best to be introduced through friends.”
Elizabeth’s mom, Millie Ako, encouraged her daughter’s writing with a special coming-of-age present. On her 16th birthday, Elizabeth learned her mom had found a publisher for Problems: BFF.
The cover illustration of two best friends linking arms was also created by Elizabeth, who is drawn to the arts. She has taken drama in school, and will soon be studying creative writing.
So far, 45 books have been sold, with $2 from each sale benefitting B.C. Children’s Hospital.
“I thought if I want to donate to any charity that I can, I’d rather donate to the children of the future,” says Elizabeth.
Her second novel promises to be equally as juicy as Problems: BFF.
“It’s one of my favourites,” she says.
The plot follows a girl named Tammy who has a string of boyfriends who always dump her for the same girl.
Tammy then winds up falling in love with Chris, who she meets at a McDonald’s restaurant.
When she introduces Chris to her family, her dad nervously says they can’t date.
Why not? Because Chris could be Tammy’s half-brother, Elizabeth says.
Readers will follow along as Tammy investigates her dad’s affair.
“She turns into a mini-sleuth looking for clues.”
Problems: BFF is available at amazon.ca.