Off-campus SJSU users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your SJSU library user name and PIN.

Publication Date

Fall 2020

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Cathleen Miller

Subject Areas

Creative writing


Give These Kids A Chance is a candid, personal account of my struggle with ongoing trauma resulting from the sexual violence I experienced as an adolescent and, more recently, the grief over losing my younger brother to a drug overdose. Told through disjunctive memoir in a series of flashbacks and present meditations, I have structured this thesis around the way these parallel tragedies have interwoven and continue to exacerbate and feed one another. As a consequence, Give These Kids A Chance delivers a psychological and sociological study on trauma processing and behavior, and it does so in a context which is itself traumatic, a period during which our nation has been seized by an ongoing reckoning with sexual violence and inequality. This memoir began by telling the story of how, at fourteen, I was approached, groomed, and romanced by the thirty-year-old father of my best friend. The resulting relationship was my first encounter with sexual and romantic intimacy. This was an overwhelming expedition into my experience of processing trauma when I received the news that my brother had died this past June, which disrupted an already complicated task and turned it into an unthinkable one: to contrast my brother’s death with my own survival and, ultimately, to grapple with an unanswerable question: how was I able to survive when he did not?