Bestselling Author Jessica Brody Visits Hollenbeck With Message of Encouragement
Posted on 09/29/2016

When bestselling author Jessica Brody visited Hollenbeck Middle school on Sept. 14, it was more than just another speaker event. To the students, it was an inspiring and uplifting experience because Brody, with her funny jokes and relatable charm, knows the emotions every young person growing up is going through. The message she sent was crucial for them to hear: it’s okay to take a bit longer to find yourself, and it’s okay to keep changing paths until you do.

Brody told the students at Hollenbeck that when she was growing up she had many aspirations. At age 5, she desperately wanted to be a waitress. A little later, she was determined to become a member of the Spice Girls. Then, when it was time for college, she decided to get a “real job” and become a business woman, so she majored in economics and became a financial analyst. “I thought I had finally found a dream that stuck,” Brody said. However, her life was turned upside down once again when she was suddenly laid off.

JessicaBrodyWhile trying to figure out the next step in her life, she remembered that she had always enjoyed writing. “I was torn. On one hand, I thought, ‘you’ve always loved to write,’ but on the other hand I asked myself, ‘can this even be a real job?’”

She decided to listen to the voice that told her to go for it and become a writer. “Since I was unemployed, I knew I needed to write a book, and it needed to happen very fast,” Brody said. She didn’t give up, and the unbelievable happened. Just 18 months later, Brody signed her first book deal.

Hollenbeck Library Media Specialist Donna Foelsch said she loved that Brody portrayed something so important to young students. “She had a great message about reinventing yourself and not letting other people define you,” said Foelsch. “I think they needed to hear that.”

Brody inspired the students at Hollenbeck when she showed them that negative things in life can ultimately lead to better things. “If I hadn’t lost that job, I would’ve never written a book, and I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Brody said. “What seemed like a major setback was actually an opportunity in disguise.”

Although it seemed as if Brody had finally found her path, she explained that even when you think you know who you are, even then you can keep reinventing yourself.

She started out as an author of women’s fiction, until she came up with a story her editor thought was more fitting as a young adult novel.

“I haven’t written for adults since,” said Brody, who just published her twelfth book. Two of them, “52 Reasons to Hate My Father,” and the book series “Unremembered” will now officially make it to the big screen.

When talking about the writing process, Brody said she found inspiration in her old journals. She talked about not knowing which boy she liked most in middle school, and that sparked the idea for her latest novel “A Week of Mondays,” where 16-year-old Ellie relieves the same Monday for a week and uses this time to reinvent herself.

Student Ashleigh Swaringim said she was thrilled about meeting Brody, and immediately felt connected to her. “I loved her,” she said. “I really liked how she was so relatable. Us middle schoolers don’t really know who we are yet and she kind of put us through that and said, I found who I was, and you can too. She’s my inspiration to keep writing and keep pursuing that dream.”

Brody left the students with encouraging words. “The only person who can answer who you are is yourself,” she said. “Who you are doesn’t have to fit in a certain box. The most important thing is that you do what you love and you stay true to yourself.”



Click here for more pictures of Jessica Brody's visit.