Two siblings look back on their 1997 advice book for children of divorce and find its message as relevant today as ever.
Ten years ago, Minneapolis siblings Zoe and Evan Stern made headlines with their reassuring book, "Divorce Is Not the End of the World."
At the time, it was a groundbreaker -- a first-of-its-kind guidebook to coping with divorce written for kids, by kids. Zoe was 16, Evan 13.
A decade later, a simple Web search will procure a multitude of similar titles and resources.
After the book sold more than 30,000 copies and provided steady sales for years after its initial release, California-based Tricycle Press has decided to give the brother-and-sister duo a second run with an anniversary edition.
And with it, a chance to speak to a new generation of kids who are going through the same things they faced.
The thought is that 10 years removed from the initial chaos of a divorce, they're now a living testament to the truth in their title. Substitute iPod for Walkman, and essentially the message is the same.
"Here we are, 10 years later, normal, well-adjusted people," Zoe said.
Things are different, of course, for Zoe and Evan today.
Their family has broken away from the Minneapolis neighborhood where the kids spent time between mom and dad's homes, which were just blocks apart. The two finished making their way through Hopkins schools. Zoe has moved to Chicago where she works at Children's Memorial Hospital. Evan spent time at George Washington University before returning to Minnesota. And their dad moved to Portland, Maine.
Now 26 and 23, they didn't rely on the help of their mother this time for the task of writing the new edition. An accomplished author herself, Ellen Sue Stern pushed the original project to fruition and tidied up a lot of her kids' childhood insights during the first book's construction.
The new book, which hits shelves in March, is more a product of the siblings' sitting down together at coffee shops in Minneapolis and Portland and delving into that time in their lives when they were putting to use the advice they had dispensed to others.
The new edition is a way for them to amend their original message with an understanding that only years of hindsight can afford them.
"It's 10 years worth of experience times two," Evan said. "We were able to add more depth to things that might have been overly optimistic or too simplified a view."
Although they maintain that divorce hasn't changed much in 10 years, they did want to expand on the range of reactions some kids have that go beyond sadness or anger when they hear of their parents' divorce.
Sometimes kids feel relief or even outright happiness, and that's OK, too, Zoe said.
The siblings also took turns writing brief 10-years-later messages at the end of each chapter that allowed them to re-articulate their thoughts.
In one, Zoe stressed that children of divorce don't grow up to be damaged goods with an inability to have lasting relationships. That's a common misconception, she said.
The new edition likely won't turn Zoe and Evan into the mini-stars they were for a while back in '97, when they gave speeches at children's camps and book signings and even made an appearance on Nickelodeon.
They also laugh off the notion of the new book lining their wallets. None of this ever was about money, they said.
Rather, they are happy to have a chance to push the book forward into a new decade when a new wave of kids might find it helpful.
Their mother hopes to market it to divorce mediators and other relationship professionals who might put it to use in their curricula as a time-tested resource.
Today, many states have mandatory mediation laws for divorcing parents, and the book could lend itself well to those services, she said.
"It does seem to have a ticket of longevity," Zoe said.
So, will they do a 20th anniversary edition if the opportunity arises?
It's tough for them to say.
But with nearly half of all U.S. m arriages ending in divorce, there will always be kids whose worlds seem to be ending who can benefit from a book like Zoe and Evan's.
Erik Borg is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.