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Meet the Jenn Crowell of “Etched On Me” (And Win a Book)

February 3, 2014

Congratulations to Melissa Crytzer Fry for winning a copy of ETCHED ON ME! 

I am excited to welcome Jenn Crowell to the blog today. Her latest novel, Etched on Me, had me on the edge of my seat and I could not stop until I finished the story.

etched-on-me-659x1024Etched on Me tells the story of Lesley Holloway, a 16-year-old girl who ran away from home after spending years enduring sexual abuse by her father. Although she is doing her best to survive and ends up in a prestigious London prep school, few people know that she’s secretly cutting herself as a coping mechanism … until the day she goes too far and ends up in the hospital. Lesley spends the next two years in and out of psychiatric facilities, where she overcomes her traumatic memories and finds the support of a surrogate family.

Eventually completing university and earning her degree, she is a social services success story. You would think the story would end there. But nope! Lesley finds herself unexpectedly pregnant in her early twenties. And despite the overwhelming odds she has overcome, the same team that saved her as an adolescent will now question whether Lesley is fit to be a mother.

After I finished Etched on Me, I had so many questions for author Jenn Crowell. She was nice enough to take the time to answer a few of them for us today.

1. What inspired you to write Etched on Me? You mention in the book jacket a girl by the name of Fran Lyon; what does she have to do with this story?
I had originally intended the book to be solely about (two of the book’s characters) Gloria and Jascha’s relationship and their adoption from Russia. But in 2007, I read a UK news article about Fran Lyon, and that all changed.

Fran was a 22-year-old young woman, very bright and successful, who’d overcome a past history of sexual abuse and self-harm as a teenager. Now happily pregnant, she faced the removal of her baby into foster care at birth, even though her treating psychiatrist had given her a clean bill of mental health, because social services didn’t trust her to parent.

As a new mother and recovered self-harmer myself, I was shocked by this story and knew that I just had to write a similar fictionalized account of a young pregnant woman’s struggle.

2. How has being a mother affected your writing?
I think Joyce Maynard described it best when she said that, since becoming a mother, she had “much more important things to say and much less time in which to say them.” I can definitely vouch for that statement!

Motherhood has made me a far more passionate and mindful writer – I’m much more conscientious about what I’m putting out into the world and whether it’s full of enough beauty and utility to justify its existence.

3. What do you hope readers will take away from Etched on Me?
Two related things: a greater awareness of the very real discrimination that mothers with mental illness face, and the ability to put a human and relatable face on those women – whom it’s so easy to marginalize and dismiss as just “crazy” others – thanks to taking the emotional journey with Lesley.

4. What are some of your favorite books and the authors that inspire you?
Margaret Atwood is my literary heroine; reading The Handmaid’s Tale at the age of fourteen was an absolute revelation in terms of my growth as a writer. A few others I love: Kazuo Ishiguro, Amy Bloom, and Clare Allan. I’m a serious sucker for YA dystopian novels, too.

GIVEAWAY: I have one copy of Etched on Me to give to one lucky reader. To be entered to win, leave a comment telling me what you’re currently reading or what book you recommend I read next. The giveaway closes Friday, February 7 at 5 pm Pacific time. 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Etched on Me to review for this blog post.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse books that I am proud to recommend to others.

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7 Comments
  1. February 3, 2014 5:11 am

    Wow! This book sounds absolutely fascinating and riveting. Thanks for sharing such personal insight, Jenn — and for bringing this book to our attention, Leah. Would love to win a copy.

    What am I reading now? The Goldfinch and I Shall Be Near To You. What I recommend? BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent — finished at the end of the year and I’m STILL thinking about it. Gorgeous literary passages and characterization!

  2. Cynthia Robertson permalink
    February 3, 2014 8:19 am

    This one sounds fascinating and I’d love to read and review it. Jenn, The Handmaid’s Tale had a profound affect on me as well; I think every young woman should read it.
    Leah, right now I am finishing up Revolutionary Road, and it’s fabulous – even better than the movie. I highly recommend it to anyone who writes.

  3. Laurie King permalink
    February 3, 2014 9:54 am

    I am reading: ” Weedflower”-Cynthia Kadohata, I LOVE it!!!!!! Its about a Japanese-American girl, who is living in California, and she gets sent to an interment camp. Its a powerful story of survival, thru a very difficult time in a young girl’s life!!!! I would recommend You read it, if you get a chance! !!!:-)
    Your book, “Etched On Me’, sounds like a “tear-jerker”, but a book I would find worth reading!!!!! I like reading books like that!!!!!!:-)

  4. February 3, 2014 10:24 am

    Currently I am reading the book Molokai, its awesome! I last read Honolulu by the same author. I recommend them both highly. Very inspiring to me esp since I just found my birth family in Hawaii last week.

  5. Cyndi permalink
    February 3, 2014 9:48 pm

    Ooooooooh, this sounds like something I would love. Will pick it up, for sure if I don’t win the gift copy. I am currently reading The Noticer by Andy Andrews. Fabulous read.

  6. February 11, 2014 8:13 pm

    Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to guest post and offering the giveaway! I love seeing what all of you are currently reading — some great suggestions for my TBR pile …

    Jenn

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