No one is 'Broken' in Champaign teen's first novel

No one is 'Broken' in Champaign teen's first novel

CHAMPAIGN — It's a grim picture of the future, where those with disabilities are locked away from society and punished for showing any emotion.

But "Broken," written by Champaign 14-year-old Hollee Trent, is also one of hope and resilience for those who face disabilities. The story follows several characters as they realize they're not broken, as they've always been told.

Trent's book was published this summer. She wrote it during last year's National Novel Writing Month. A friend told her about it, and she started writing halfway through the month.

She decided to publish the book through a company called Createspace, which allowed her to publish the book inexpensively and gave her five free copies.

It's available at Trent's page,

The main character is a girl named Tate, who is deaf and lives in a special facility for those who are different. As she meets a new resident at the Central Illinois Facility for the Broken, she comes to realize she has the power and ability to change things for herself and her peers.

While today's society doesn't lock away those with disabilities, Trent said she sees her friends being treated differently because of them.

Two of her best friends are deaf, she said, and another is in a wheelchair, "and it makes me mad, how people treat them."

"Sometimes, it just kind of seems like it's not fair," Trent said.

The cover also features Trent's original artwork, of pencils, one of them broken. Pencils and the power to record one's story feature prominently in the book.

Trent, who is 14, will be a freshman this fall at Central High School in Champaign and previously attended Franklin Middle School.

Trent was in the American Sign Language Club at Franklin when it started, and she and another friend are hoping to start another such club at Central.

Her mom, Laurie Trent, said Hollee is the kind of person who is always looking for ways to help and do things for other people.

"She always looks past those disabilities to see the person inside and to cherish the person inside," Laurie Trent said.

As a kindergartner, Hollee Trent was friends with another child in her class with special needs, telling her mom that he was her friend and made her laugh.

"The teacher told me, 'I could put Hollee next to him, and she just accepts him for who he is,'" Laurie Trent said.

Hollee Trent is the kind of person who likes to try all kinds of things, her mom said, and is already working on her second book.

"It never gets old," Laurie Trent said. "It amazes me, the things she comes up (with) to try."

Hollee Trent said her mom has commented that the book is somewhat dark.

"That is not me at all," Hollee Trent said. But at the same time, "Broken" is something of an inspiration and a reminder of basic human rights in the United States.

"I'm hoping to help people understand, and (encourage them) to be more fair," she said. "It's not OK to treat others badly because they're different."

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americanproud wrote on August 11, 2012 at 9:08 am

How refreshing and exciting to have a budding artist right here in our town!  Hollee, you are a breath of fresh air in a world where many of our young people care more about their X-Box than they do about their fellow students and neighbors.  I can't wait to pick up your book!