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E. Lockhart Gets Vulnerable with WPHS Students

By: Eva Mandelbaum

E. Lockhart is ambition and strong coffee. She is sugar, curiosity, and rain. She is bounce and effort, and mostly, she is raw emotion and vulnerability. She is a perfectly complex combination of every character from her blockbuster book We Were Liars, in which she left a piece of herself on every page.

E. Lockhart is a genius: she wrote a book backwards. She writes with imagery so vivid that if you choose to read one of her books, you are choosing to live the life of the characters as you read. She hits return in the middle of sentences, even when she is writing prose.

She is also unlike anything you’d expect. As a NYT bestselling author, you would naturally be surprised by the fact that she acts normal, like she isn’t famous. Most bestselling authors with over 25,000 Instagram followers would have an air of ego, conceit, or insincerity about them. But not E. Lockhart. Her innate humbleness and realness make conversing with her feel like speaking to a good friend.

White Plains High School students had the privilege of meeting the person behind an award winning, cult favorite book, experiencing this true shock as she revealed what seemed like absolutely everything about herself in the WPHS auditorium on October 20 during 2nd period. E. Lockhart is not only unafraid to lay herself bare, to expose her biggest vulnerabilities and fears to a group of total strangers, but she is willing to do so to a group of high school students she’s never met. And that alone takes a rare amount of bravery and confidence, two traits that life has forced her to have.

“Your vulnerabilities, as painful as they might be, are like gifts from the universe. To you, to allow you to make something that touches other people,” she said before listing her own vulnerabilities (that she is a self-taught fiction writer, grew up with a mother with different religious beliefs from her, went to private schools on scholarships, suffers from chronic pain, the fact that she has children that can “rip [her] heart out of [her] chest and leave [her] with it spasming on the floor,” and the fact that her sister was very sick for a while, something that made her feel powerless).

After listing all of the things that make her human, she voiced what everyone in the room was thinking: “I think sometimes when a person who is a bestselling author is standing up in front of a bunch of people, you think that I don’t have any problems. That my whole life is easy,” she said. “But everybody has vulnerabilities. Everybody has pain. Everybody has problems. And those are your strengths as a creative person, if you can mine them, access them in a way that feels safe.” Lockhart is real. And unlike many renowned people, she isn’t afraid to show it.

“It did not matter how clever I was," she admitted when speaking about Genuine Fraud, which was published in 2017. “What mattered was that I was telling a story about human beings and trying to explore some element of human life.”

Lockhart explained that when writing her books, she has to dig deep within herself and access her vulnerabilities and emotions to figure out what the story means to her. “Why should your readers feel anything if you don’t?” she said.

With influences ranging from Dickens to her children to her own deepest emotions, Lockhart’s writing voice is uniquely her own. She places pieces of herself into every character and every story. “The story is not my story. But the emotions are my emotions,” she said.

E. Lockhart is a storyteller. A writer. A mother, a sister, a daughter. A feminist, an advocate. A comedian, a celebrity. A hero. E. Lockhart is many things. But mostly, she is a human being. And that’s something she isn’t afraid to show.

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