This Ordinary Life
by Jennifer Walkup
Publisher: Luminis Books, Inc.
Release Date: October 1st 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Sometimes Hope is the Most Extraordinary Gift of All.
High-school radio host Jasmine Torres's life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.
That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.
Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.
Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health--not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Jasmine came to me first – a strong main character who loves working at her school radio station and works hard for her ultimate dream - to be a real radio dj someday. But I knew she’d have struggles – a cheating ex boyfriend, an alcoholic mother, an absent father. Her brother’s epilepsy was central to her character. I wanted at least one character who is struggling with epilepsy. It’s a subject that’s important to me, and something I wanted to represent. When I wrote in Wes, the love interest, also with epilepsy,
I wanted to show how characters are people first, disability second, and way more than the sum of their disabilities. Wes is a really great guy, and they quickly become good friends, and maybe more… Plus,
Wes gives her support, attention, and love she hasn’t had before. But he also gives her the hope she needs to keep following her dreams and caring for her family.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
I can relate to most of the characters in the novel, in one way or another. Like Jasmine, I take care of someone with epilepsy and understand the unexpected struggles this sometimes bring. Like the Mom character, I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed. And like Ms. Hudson, I know what it’s like to believe in someone so much and be proud of someone else’s accomplishments as if they were my own, doing what I can to help them on their path. Wes also made me laugh consistently when I was writing him, and Danny I just want to give a big hug.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
It’s funny how difficult titles can be. With my first book, I went through what felt like millions of titles. But with THIS ORDINARY LIFE, the title came to me almost as soon as the book did. Jasmine, the main character has lots of challenges in her life. She often wishes things were easier and simpler, but through the course of her struggles and chasing her dreams, she realizes that sometimes “ordinary” is found where we least expect it. And sometimes ordinary is more than good enough.
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
It’s hard, harder than most people expect when starting out. It’s really fun and really wonderful, but it’s a lot of work, and each project has its own challenges. If I’ve learned anything it’s that the hardest and best work happens in revisions and that just when you think you’re done, there’s more work to be do. A lot more.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I think it’s a perfect representation of THIS ORDINARY LIFE. Jasmine, the main character, is an aspiring radio DJ and that dream plays a big role in how she pushes herself despite the challenges in her life and family, so the headphones, record, and NYC skyline are just perfect for this book. When I saw the cover I think I literally squealed. I loved the colors, the design, every last detail, down to the little paper airplanes (those who read the book will get the airplane reference in regards to Wes, the love interest in the book.)
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2016?
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas and The Pragmatist by Stephanie Kuehn
What was your favorite book in 2015?
Oh that’s a tough question. It probably changes on a daily basis. I recently finished SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli and really loved it!
What’s up next for you?
I’m working on a few different projects – all YA contemporary. My favorite at the moment is a summer YA where an unlikely duo teams up and tries to lose their real-life fears and worries in one crazy-fun and insightful summer at the beach.
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Award-winning author Jennifer Walkup is most often found writing, reading, and spending time with her husband and young sons. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also works as an editor and creative writing instructor, and is an advocate for Epilepsy awareness. This Ordinary Life is her second novel.
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