Whether she’s working at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach or brainstorming ideas for her next novel, Sophie Meridien knows the power of story—and its ability to transport young minds. “I think it goes back to being in school and having a really awesome English teacher or a really awesome librarian and me wanting to be that for these kids,” she says. “I want to be a helpful adult in their life who they can talk to—not just about books but also about regular life stuff.”
Meridien has been a librarian at the Mandel Public Library for four years, helping teens reach their academic and social potential. During the school year, she runs the library’s teen homework center, where kids can come for free homework help, a healthy snack, or a friendly face. “Sometimes the kids don’t even have homework,” she admits. “They just need a safe place to hang out before their parents get home.”
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed: In 2021, Meridien was recognized as Florida’s Most Outstanding New Librarian of the Year by the Florida Library Association. “There were quite a few awards being handed out, and I remember thinking, ‘All these librarians are super incredible!’ To be a part of that was really awesome.”
But Meridien’s impact reaches far beyond the library’s bookshelves. She runs a monthly book club at the Pace Center for Girls, an alternative school for teenage girls in Palm Beach County. She has also coordinated author visits at a local juvenile detention center. “We’re trying to bring the library to teens who can’t make it to the library,” she says. “It’s one of the best parts of the job.”
Meridien is on a mission to provide all teenagers with equal access to books—especially those that feature characters they can readily relate to. “Most of my teens come from our community and they don’t necessarily have a lot of books [with characters who] look like them,” she says. “I always want to make sure I’m buying the best books for them.”
She’s writing the best books for them, too: Meridien’s debut novel, The Witchery, will be released in late July. “In the fantasy realm, for me growing up, I couldn’t find a lot of magical heroines who looked like me. That’s part of the reason I wrote this book.”
Meridien hopes the world of fantasy The Witchery offers can be an enjoyable escape for teenagers from all corners of the community. And when they step back into the Mandel Public Library, she’ll be there to help them continue writing their own stories.