It’s been about 15 years since the opioid epidemic first hit Appalachia. And now, there’s a whole generation of teenagers in West Virginia and Kentucky who have grown up with drug addiction strongly affecting their friends and families.
Novelist Carrie Mullins grew up in Mt. Vernon, KY. After spending a number of years in Lexington, she returned home in 2003.
"And when I moved back, It seemed like there's been an entire generation that's just been decimated by... drugs. These were kids that I knew growing up. These were kids I had taught at vacation bible school. And it was across all class lines. It was everybody."
So Mullins decided to write a coming-of-age novel based on the frightening realities facing many young Appalachians. Her debut novel is called Night Garden.
The protagonist is a 17-year-old girl named Marie.
"It's a fictional book of course, but in a way I wanted to make a record of what's going on in my area and with the people that I loved in my area," said Mullins.
In her novel, Marie's family suffers a tragedy, and her parents' reactions push her to addiction.
"I know parents, brothers and sisters of people who've been addicted. It's super hard to pinpoint how it starts and why it starts."
"One thing you do when you're that age could impact your whole life. That's what I think about Marie. She made a couple of not so great decisions, and the outcome is gonna be with her forever."