Content warning: addiction, substance abuse, self-inflicted wounds, self-harm, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts
Bringing empathy to people whose trials in life may not mirror your own is the lot many creators take seriously. In her latest release, author Stephanie Kuehn delivers on this objective in more ways than one.
We Weren’t Looking to Be Found is a story about two different teenaged girls brought together during major lows in their lives. One, the wealthy and politically powerful Danielle, has gone through life trying to avoid gaining the spotlight that would incur her parent’s wrath for ruining their reputations—until she doesn’t. The other, a small-town dancer trying to keep her dream of becoming a professional alive, Camila has dealt with the disappointments that have come to punctuate so many of her aspirations in life in ways that secretly holds herself to blame. When each of their secrets come to light, they find themselves hesitant roommates in a rehab facility for teen girls who have similar concerns. While there, they find inspiration in each other’s strengths but also learn how to work through the resentments they hold for life both inside and outside of rehab. Lucky for them, there are enough distractions that help them work through the tumultuousness of their emotions while also helping them confront their needs.
Though I have never been in the shoes that either character embodies, I found a lot of similarities in my reasoning as a teenager with how Dani and Camila are overwhelmed by the stress in their lives. Seeing them work through their struggles by considering the other’s needs reminded me of how much becoming engrossed in someone else’s story also helps me to work through issues I’m facing. Once I learned that Kuehn is a trained psychological professional, the motions and message behind this novel struck me as a work with several levels of intentionality put into it for readers of several different age categories.