Bill Konigsberg Aims To Spark Dialogue About Mental Health With Young Adult Novel

HuffPost has a first look at the cover for "The Bridge," due out in September.

In the 12 years since the release of his debut novel, “Out of the Pocket,” Bill Konigsberg has proven himself a virtuoso of crafting LGBTQ-inclusive narratives for young readers.

For his latest book, however, the author said he aimed to encourage his audience to “come out of the closet” with regard to another complex and deeply personal subject.

HuffPost got an exclusive first look at the cover art for “The Bridge,” viewable below. Due out in September, the book follows two teenagers, Aaron and Tillie, who meet on New York’s George Washington Bridge as they are contemplating suicide. Four different outcomes to the scenario, and the aftermath each would create, are then explored.

Bill Konigsberg's "The Bridge" is due out Sept. 1.
Bill Konigsberg's "The Bridge" is due out Sept. 1.

“The whole point of this is to really open up a discussion about suicide that we haven’t really had in this country or in this world,” Konigsberg told HuffPost. “I don’t know anybody who hasn’t met somebody who is either dealing with suicidal depression or dealt with it themselves. I think we have to take the taboo away from this.”

“The Bridge” marks a considerable departure for the Stonewall-, GLAAD Media- and Lambda Literary Award-winning author, whose 2019 novel, “The Music of What Happens,” was a gay-themed romance for young adults. Earlier books, including 2013’s “Openly Straight” and its 2017 follow-up, “Honestly Ben,” have emphasized other aspects of the LGBTQ youth experience.

Though one of the protagonists identifies as gay, Konigsberg wanted “The Bridge” to highlight the universal impact of mental health and suicide outside of the LGBTQ community. Though his book shares themes with the Netflix drama series “13 Reasons Why,” he sees his take as considerably less glossy.

“Honestly, I’ve had an easier time in my life talking about being gay than I have about my own issues with mental health, which have really hugely impacted my life,” the Arizona-based scribe said. “My calling is to go deeper and deeper into truth with every book.”

Calling “The Bridge” the “deepest book I’ve written,” Konigsberg hopes readers will come away from the novel with “a sense of hopefulness, because that’s what carried me through.”

“Sometimes life is just incredibly hard,” he added, “but what we’re called to do is hold on another day, as Wilson Phillips would tell us.”

The Bridge” is due out Sept. 1.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.