Bianca Schramm: Suburban State of Mind


Photo by Laaiba Mahmood

When it comes to reading, Schramm covers all bases. “From young adult fiction to dystopian to autobiographies, I don’t have a typical genre,” Schramm said. “I like a lot of different books.”

Alana Cervera, Online Managing Editor, Sports Columnist

Bianca Schramm sat in her eighth grade English class with a future dream in her head and a pencil in her hand.

“[Our teacher] had us think about where we were living in respect to the entire nation and rest of the world,” Schramm said. “The privilege of the suburban lifestyle. Those dialogues sparked an interesting story in my head with this girl Emma who’s living in this suburban bubble. Emma sees through this bubble.”

Schramm, who is now a senior, published her first novel on Sept. 20 called, “Suburban Utopia Unhinged.”

Over a three-year process that began with a short-story, Schramm transformed her idea into a 250-page novel that has already sold 40 copies. The novel is on Amazon and available in print and ebook editions.

“Suburban Utopia Unhinged” focuses on five high school teenagers living in a suburban community. The novel rotates voices every couple of chapters to showcase Emma, the main character, Loreen, the mean girl, Jake, the jock, Ned, the nerd and Kathryn, Emma’s best friend.

Emma doesn’t fit in any social category and is trying to find her place with Kathryn who is struggling with body insecurity.

“Loreen is the average Regina George from the movie ‘Mean Girls,’ and people kind of shy away from her [in the hallways],” Schramm said.

Jake plays football but is forced into the sport because of a family legacy. He finds other passions that affect his life outside of football, and Ned the nerd is the typical antisocial kid who gets picked on.

“[Ned’s] brilliant, but his arrogance in that makes people not like him,” Schramm said.

Schramm wrote this novel in light of her own experiences and different people she has met at Central.

“I don’t know how much of it is fiction because so much of what’s in the book is from my experiences in high school,” Schramm said. “It’s my outlook on how it is to be a teenager today and the type of people you see in the world and breaking through those stereotypes.”

Schramm has always been passionate about writing. She comes from a family of authors. Both her grandfather and aunt have published books.

When she was young, Schramm knew writing was her calling.

“Even in elementary school, I knew words have a big impact on people,” Schramm said. “[Whether it be] spoken, written, you’re talking and someone is always listening. [Writing] can make a really big impact on people’s lives.”

John Hayward, co-director of the Learning Commons, helped Schramm in the editing process and read her novel before it was published.  

“I think the most impressive thing is that she accurately portrayed teenage voices and worked with multiple ones,” Hayward said. “Their stories are overlapping, but she’s able to keep them distinct […] and that takes some craft.”

Schramm focuses on the connection between all five characters.

“While all the characters seem super different, they’re very similar,” Schramm said. “They have their own unique struggles with insecurities and with their parental pressures and school, but in the end, they all have this connection of living in the same area and having very similar experiences.”

Through the editing process, Schramm struggled with ending the story.

“And I think if I had three more years, I think this would be a completely different book,” Schramm said. “Another big part of that is finding an ending point and knowing this is the best it’s going to be in this point of time. I can’t over analyze every little word and every detail, so editing was the worst part.”

Senior Carly Nasman has known Schramm since freshman year. They’ve participated in choir and several musicals together in high school. Nasman has been supportive of Schramm throughout her whole writing process.

“When she first told me about it [freshman year,] I thought it was cool, but I never really thought it was going to happen,” Nasman said. “I went over to her house and she showed me it. I love how relatable it is and how she wrote it around how Naperville is.”

Schramm hopes to continue writing at Northwestern University, her dream school since eighth grade. Currently, she’s undecided about her specific major but looks forward to applying early decision to the School of Communications.

“No matter where I go to school or what I major in, [creative writing] will be a big part of my life,” Schramm said.

Schramm’s main message to readers is simple.

“I want [readers] to really see the similarities between people,” Schramm said. “I think, especially [among] teenagers, there’s such a divide in high school, where you’re either this person or that person, and I want kids reading it to understand that surface level differences do not determine everything about you. There’s so much more to a person than the jersey they wear or the instrument they play or their outer appearance, so I just want them to notice that when reading.”