Professor’s latest young adult novel tackles tough teen issues

Donna Cooner new book ScreenshotColorado State University professor and young adult novelist Donna Cooner has a reputation for taking on serious issues in her novels. From eating disorders to cyberbullying, Cooner has used her books to bring to light relevant social issues faced by teens.

“Parents, teachers, and communities are all concerned with a wide variety of teen issues complicated by social media and technology,” said Cooner. “Recent studies suggest social media can lead to increased feelings in teens of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness — all issues I want to explore in my novels.”

A professor in CSU’s School of Education, Cooner works primarily with students in the school’s Center for Educator Preparation, where she helps to prepare future educators by teaching, supervising, evaluating, and advising. This role, said Cooner, helps fuel her creative process and keeps her in tune with what’s happening in schools.

“Schools and educators are struggling with how to manage social media in positive ways,” she said. “In order to prepare the best educators, university instructors must stay current with technological challenges to school culture.”

Cooner’s newest book, Screenshot, dives into issues of self-esteem and self-worth, popularity and bullying, and online privacy and social media. Together, these issues are likely familiar to middle and high school students everywhere. Telling stories that are realistic and relatable is a hallmark of Cooner’s writing.

“Sometimes the worst bully of all, and the hardest one to fight, is the one who lives between our own two ears,” she said. “I love to write stories about that self-critical voice and how to build a positive self-image, even in a world inundated with social media judgement.”

To meet Cooner and purchase a signed copy of Screenshot, attend the book’s launch party on Friday, June 1, 5-7 p.m. at Illegal Pete’s rooftop in downtown Fort Collins. The event is open to the public.

The Center for Educator Preparation is in the School of Education, part of the CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.