SOMERSET, NJ - Franklin’s excellence in creative and artistic offerings has once again proven its worth.
Sammi Caramela, FHS Class of 2013 alum, published her first Young Adult novel with Metal Lunchbox Publishing titled Some Place Like Home. Starting January 15th, paperback and e-book copies of the novel are available for purchase on Amazon.
Some Place Like Home tells the story of a high school senior who has obsessive compulsive disorder. She tries to hide her anxiety and compulsions from her friends and loved ones, including her new boyfriend, out of shame. But when her classmate goes missing, she becomes obsessed with finding and helping him, so much so that she neglects every other aspect of her life.
With this novel, Caramela intends to break down stigmas around mental health while helping young adults to explore the danger of toxic relationships, alcoholism, abuse, and more.
“The main character is empathetic, insightful, and brave — like every other person I have met who has OCD,” Caramela says. “I wanted to expose readers to the raw emotions and troubling thoughts that people with OCD battle, while also showing that they are more than their obsessions and compulsions.”
To those that know her, it comes as no surprise that Caramela has acquired a book deal at the young age of 25; she cannot remember a time in her life without a love of books, and always knew she wanted to be a writer.
“Before I could even write words, I would create picture books in my room using printer paper I stole from my dad’s office,” Caramela says. “I faced some difficult things in my childhood, and writing always gave me a purpose and a way out of my own head."
Franklin’s strength in language arts undoubtedly helped her hone her skills. While at FHS, Caramela had the opportunity to take multiple writing classes like Creative Writing, Journalism, and Expository Writing and to become involved in the school newspaper.
“Each of my teachers provided valuable insight and gave me hope that I could dive into writing as a career,” Caramela says. “I always felt rejuvenated and inspired after leaving these classes.”
In fact, it was in high school that Caramela and her father came up with the idea for Some Place Like Home.
“I was telling him how I wanted to write a book about the struggles of OCD, and he said, ‘Why not show the good that comes from OCD? Why not have the main character use it to solve a crime or help others?’ Of course, this isn’t meant to romanticize the disorder, but rather empower those who suffer from it.”
Following high school, Caramela attended Rowan University where she majored in Writing Arts with a concentration in Creative Writing and pursued undeclared minors in Journalism and Psychology. She worked as a business journalist and freelance writer before taking her current full-time position as the Content Manager for digital marketing agency Lightning Media Partners. While balancing full-time work, Caramela spent three years writing countless drafts—and often acting out scenes and dialogues of her book in her room—before finalizing Some Place Like Home. For Caramela, this writing process was quite personal and in many ways, an escape that “saved her life”.
“Of course, this isn’t a memoir, but I put a lot of myself and my struggles and experiences into it,” Caramela explains. “I relate a little too much to the main character, and I see her as my high school self who was constantly confused, overwhelmed, and trapped in her own head. But it was so rewarding to experience her character development and, in turn, my own.”
When she got word that her book was going to be published, she “screamed, jumped around her apartment, and didn’t stop smiling the entire day.”
“Just knowing that all the emotional pain I channeled to create the novel finally paid off, and that I could now share this story and potentially help others, was the best feeling I’ve ever experienced,” Caramela says.
Reflecting on the challenges and rewards of writing a novel, she encourages young writers to continue pursuing their artistry even during this challenging period of time.
“To any writers who feel discouraged: Listen to the passion within you,” Caramela says. “You don’t need to be perfect or especially talented; you just need to be willing to share your heart. Your story is important; don’t let fear or doubt keep your words from those who need to read them.”
Some Place Like Home is now available to purchase on Amazon. Caramela has also curated an accompanying playlist to the novel, which is publicly available on Spotify. Caramela encourages anyone interested in reading more about mental health and similar topics to explore her blog at sammisays.org.