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Northwest military brat publishes young adult novel

Kristalyn Simler used her childhood on military bases to write her first book

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Life as a military brat can be vastly different than childhood portrayed in the media. It can be difficult to keep long-lasting friendships when your family continuously relocates from base to base around the country, and for some, around the world. Couple that with an earlier loss of innocence compared to most kids (that can happen when you're constantly reminded of the reasons why a military is necessary in the first place), and it's a very unique environment for an adolescent. Kristalyn Simler used to be in that situation, and those experiences are reflected in her debut novel for teens, Send Me a Postcard.

Simler, who now resides in Gig Harbor, grew up on two different Air Force bases: Malmstrom, in Montana, and Spangdahlem, in Germany. However, Postcard is set in a completely different environment: a small, rural farming community with a strong Hispanic influence. Simler said that she chose this location due to her interest in small-town societies, and her curiosity of how teens' lives were impacted by that culture.

"Growing up on Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, my family would go camping and fishing," Simler said. "We would drive past so many small towns, very small towns, and with my imagination I would wonder about the kids in those towns - what kind of adventures did they have? Who were they? What did they do for fun? How did they find love? Did their friends live near or far away?"

Send Me a Postcard focuses on the life of teen Gloriana Lopez, whose life starts to spin out of control thanks to all sorts of different forces, from the U.S. immigration law enforcement (or "La Migra," as the locals call it), to toxic friendships - even a forbidden romance with a strange boy. According to Simler, the book is meant to juggle not only complex societal issues, but also the everyday struggles of any average teenager. Simler intended for Postcard to have a  important message, just delivered more subtly.

"I wrote this book because I wanted to connect with my younger sisters in a ‘cool' way and not just be the old, big, far-away sister giving advice," Simler said. This is a love letter to them and to all teens - make good friends and don't be defined by your mistakes. Erase the lines society puts around you - around all of us. Become yourself and love the person you become."

Simler also believes that her childhood growing up on military bases puts her in an ideal position to write stories about teenagers, since the experience of constantly being forced to make new friends gave her some perspective on adolescence.

"Friends are so important, whether you've just met them, known them for only a few months or had them your entire life," Simler said. "And when someone new comes into your community, school, or life - try to make a connection with them - no matter how small it may be, because the truth is you probably have more in common with them than you may have thought at first glance."

Send Me a Postcard is available to purchase on Amazon, either in paperback form or on Kindle. 

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