Book: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentreucategories: Book, Young Adult, Bullying, Secrets, Cheerleading, Popularity, Lies, Bulimia, High School, Eating Disorders
Barbara Ehrentreuabout this book: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor tells the story of Carolyn Samuels, a fourteen year old girl who thinks her body is "too heavy for fashion" and has hair like "shriveled spaghetti". She starts off her freshman year becoming partners in Math class with Jennifer Taylor, the girl she calls "Miss Perfect", who is a gymnast and goes out with Brad Morrow, the Junior quarterback and Carolyn's crush. Carolyn fears this year will be like her last, because Jennifer bullied her due to Carolyn's hyperventilating. When she faints from worrying about Jennifer's being in her gym class, Jennifer helps her. From that moment Carolyn's life changes. However, she learns that Jennifer might have a secret and this leads to more and more lies that she can't tell to her parents and which threaten to destroy her old friendships. It's all about keeping secrets and when or if you should tell a secret to someone else. Add to this that Carolyn wants to be a cheerleader and be popular. Will she achieve her heart's desire? Will Brad Morrow ever notice her? This story appeals to all ages as Carolyn tries to navigate her first year in high school.
I was inspired to write this story when I took a children's writing workshop from Paula Danziger and needed to have three chapters as an entrance to the class. Paula was very helpful to me as I wrote the story. So I dedicated it to her.
Though older people enjoy reading the book, it is written for ages ten and up. Younger children really seem to love the story and identify with the characters. Older people think back to their own experiences in high school. Though it was written for girls, boys and men enjoy reading it too. One told me it gave them a way to see how girls really think. If you read the reviews on Amazon you will see both women's and men's take on it.
This book took two years to write and I had the help of a wonderful critique group, YA-authors, which has since disbanded. However, they were very supportive and gave great critiques. It took five years for the book to be published. I was very lucky to know the publisher, Lea Schizas, who loved my book and MuseItUp Publishing finally published it in 2011. I was also very lucky to have Kaytelyn Platt as my cover artist. She was able to show how invisible my character felt by not showing her eyes. Most people love the cover!
Since this story concerns dealing with someone with an eating disorder, I needed to do research. I belonged to a children's writing message board and I asked anyone who had an eating disorder to send me information anonymously. I received many responses and I put a few of them into the book. At the time I started writing this book, my own daughter had a form of bulimia and this is the reason I included it. Knowing someone who is suffering from an eating disorder is very difficult as you can see if you read the book.
Too many girls and some boys suffer from eating disorders and my book is part of the library for the Association of Eating Disorders. When I checked bookstores and libraries there are quite a few books about people who have eating disorders written by them. However, this might be one of the few about knowing someone who has one.
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Video: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentre
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