It Gets Better edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller

9 Jul

Bibliographic Information

It Gets Better edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller. Plume, 2012, ISBN: 978-0452297616

Plot Summary

After a string of suicides by gay teens, Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller uploaded a video to YouTube in an effort to convince young people that “It Gets Better”.  With this simple act, they began a movement that resulted in thousands of video statements in which gay and straight adults shared their own stories of bullying and how their lives got better once they grew up. As a result of its success, Savage and Miller compiled this selection of stories to help teens understand the temporary nature of bullying and have faith that it will not last forever.  In addition, the book includes resources and suggestions for those looking for help now.

Critical Evaluation

It Gets Better is a compilation of voices from the future.  These stories from people who were bullied, either for their sexual orientation or other reasons, offer solace and hope to those who feel their harsh treatment will never end.  The book includes a variety of messages from everyday people and celebrities, such as President Obama, David Sedaris, Ellen Degeneres, Tim Gunn, Suze Orman, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Chaz Bono, and Bruce Ortiz.

Savage and Miller have done an excellent job making sure the book has a message for everyone.  There are stories by lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender writers, as well as straight writers who were taunted for just being different.  The writers are American, Mexican, Canadian, British, as well one who submitted his essay in Arabic. Many of the stories are sad, but all of them have a message of hope that will help those experiencing similar trials.  The writers here clearly demonstrate the adage, “That which doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.”  Readers will be amazed and inspired at courage and strength of these contributors, famous and non-famous alike. In one of my favorite submissions, Gabrielle Rivera honestly proclaims, “It kind of doesn’t get better…but what happens is this: You get stronger. You learn how to love yourself. You learn that other people are just crazy and caught up in their own crap” (p. 45).

Reader’s Annotation

It Gets Better is for anyone who’s thought that being bullied in school will ruin their life forever.  Dan Savage and Terry Miller have compiled the best submissions from their It Gets Better project into one volume.  This collection has something for everyone who has been bullied in school for being different.

Information about the author

From the authors’ biography on, we learn that “Dan Savage is an author, journalist, and activist widely known and appreciated for his mordant wit, political commentary, and commonsensical approach to all manner of sexual issues. He is the author of the internationally syndicated column ”Savage Love” and the editorial director of The Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Travel & Leisure,, Nest, Rolling Stone, The Onion, and many other publications. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his husband Terry Miller. Terry Miller is a DJ, event promoter, musician, and music critic/blogger. He is Dan Savage’s partner of sixteen years.



Curriculum Ties

English, Health

Booktalking Ideas

Which person’s story resonated the most with you?

What can be done to prevent school bullying on campus?

Reading Level / Interest Age

Grade 9 and up

Challenge Issues

The stories in It Gets Better describe teens being bullied for their sexual orientation, and thus discuss the existence of sex and acceptance and celebration of homosexuality.  The project and book are created to minimize the damage done to gay teens from harassment and abuse from peers and adults.

Why did I include this title?

This is a book that should be in every school library because it offers profiles of courage from many gay teens and adults.  It offers hope for those suffering due to the ignorance and narrow mindedness of others.



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