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.
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.
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?’”
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
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.”
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.