Local teenager featured in ‘Young People of the Pandemic’ anthology

Torrey Pines sophomore Sofie Brown is featured in the book "Young People of the Pandemic."

Torrey Pines High School sophomore Sofie Brown is one of the voices featured in “Young People of the Pandemic,” an anthology of stories, anecdotes and poems by 10 to 21-year-old Americans.

Edited by Nancy Nelson, the book pulls together a wide spectrum of honest and open responses to the global pandemic, experiences that are both “heartbreaking and heartwarming.” Some contributors described how close COVID-19 hit, with relatives and friends directly impacted by the virus. Many reflected on the turbulent atmosphere of the summer during national Black Lives Matter protests. All wrote about uncertainty after their young lives were turned upside down during times of quarantines and lockdowns—and they look ahead with hope.

“I strongly believe the content of this book displays a resilient youth population whose words can be admired as a source of healing and motivation,” Nelson wrote. “While editing this book I became increasingly confident that Gen Z will bring this country, and the world, into a better place.”

Sofie’s piece, “Being Gray”, walks readers through what she experienced during the first six months of 2020.

“Seeing my name published in such a time-sensitive book was really cool,” Sofie said. ”I hope people can relate to how I felt and what I went through.”

Sofie, a 2019 graduate of R. Roger Rowe School, finished up her freshman year and started her sophomore year in distance learning at Torrey Pines. “It has been challenging because I am a visual/tactile learner and distance learning provides less opportunity for my learning style,” she said.

Her published essay started out as a school assignment, given by her honors English teacher Brianna Camacho. Camacho asked her class in June to write a final essay about the pandemic and how they felt.

“What I loved most about Sofie’s piece is the strong voice and command of the writing that was evident throughout. Her subheadings organized the work in a way that her audience gained insight on her most difficult, humorous, and new events experienced each month, starting January 1, 2020,” Camacho said. “And, what an ending: ‘However, amidst the crazy, imperfect world we have, families are coming together, people are coming together. It’s ironic that it took being apart to bring a nation together’”

Camacho reached out to the Browns saying that she wished she could find an outlet for the piece to be published more broadly. Sofie’s mom, Amy, found out about the “Young People of the Pandemic” book from a call for entries on a Facebook—they submitted her essay and it was selected.

Sofie chose to write her essay as comparative entries for each month, from the blissful ignorance of January and February through the month of June, when restrictions started to lift before the July surge, “I wanted to share my universal thoughts and emotions and how I viewed the pandemic,” she said.

2020 started off with the “normal” life Sofie would end up chasing for the rest of the year: acting in the show “Pippin”, joining the diving team and going on a ski trip with friends in February, “I never knew that the duration of drive home would be the last time I’d be with those girls for a while. The world would go into a downward spiral in the next few months,” she wrote.

When school shut down and the statewide lockdown started on March 13, she recalls naively viewing it as “Two weeks off!” Throughout the spring she wrote about feeling “stuck”, plowing though a five-book series, cooking, baking, online shopping and learning to sew. She got hooked on Netflix and watched numerous documentaries and teen dramas.

She often felt isolated and confused.

“The word quarantine would forever hold a PTSD trigger word within my generation,” Sofie wrote. “It was scary, it is scary.”

She also wrote about the hurt she felt watching the peaceful protests and destructive riots that were held following the death of George Floyd in May. She felt sympathy and sorrow for people of color in America.

In June, she was happy when the beaches opened and she could eat pizza inside again at her favorite pizza place. In her essay, she reflects back on what she learned during such an abnormal time.

“I learned to never take even the smallest moments for granted. I learned that putting your mind to something will pay off,” Sofie write. “But the most important thing I learned is, life goes on. My life will go on and now I will live it to the fullest.”

Starting the new year as a sophomore year at Torrey Pines, Sofie is looking forward to returning to her normal life once the pandemic is over. Over the last year, her sewing advanced and she learned how to sew swimsuits—she discovered a new passion and a new goal to have her own swimsuit company someday. When the pandemic calms, Sofie is most looking forward to traveling with her mom again.

“I have been traveling with my mom since I was born and I really miss our trips together,” Sofie said. “I know the world may be a little different, but I want to see it again!”

Find “Young People of the Pandemic” on