Monday, February 18, 2019

Interview with Jen Petro-Roy, Author of GOOD ENOUGH & YOU ARE ENOUGH

I recently had the opportunity to chat with author Jen Petro-Roy about her upcoming books GOOD ENOUGH and YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Welcome Jen to Middle Grade Minded! 
First of all, what should readers know about your new books that are set to release tomorrow?
First of all, I want YOU to know how honored I am to be here. I love that there are blogs out there that cater specifically to middle grade readers and it’s so wonderful to be able to connect to your audience. And, yes, I have TWO books releasing on February 19th, one fiction and one non-fiction. I’m pretty sure that this is a rare occurrence in publishing and it’s so exciting to have two books to promote and talk about at the same time.
Good Enough and You Are Enough are both about eating disorders, an illness that I suffered from for twelve years, in varying degrees of severity. Good Enough tells the story of twelve-year-old Riley, who was just hospitalized for anorexia nervosa. As she navigates her feelings about recovery, she has to deal with her gymnastics star younger sister, parents who just don’t understand, and a fellow patient who may or may not be trying to sabotage her progress.
You Are Enough is a self-help guide for teens and tweens that is also informed by my experience (I discuss my personal journey), but also by a ton of research. I’m super proud about how inclusive this book is—I talk about males with eating disorders, the LGBTQIA+ population, and how fat acceptance is central to eating disorder recovery. I write about common situations kids could find themselves in that could interfere with their recovery, how to combat body image woes, and so much more.
Can you speak to how your journey to eating disorder recovery has informed your novel, GOOD ENOUGH, and your nonfiction self-help book for young readers, YOU ARE ENOUGH?
As I wrote, I drew upon my past emotions a lot—the initial ambivalence about recovery, the shifting feelings during hospitalization, the frustration with family and friends who may not understand how the person struggling feels. It was hard at some points to recall those feelings and experiences, but I’m glad that I forced myself to go through them again, because I think it made the book richer and more realistic.
I’ve heard from some early readers that Good Enough helped them to understand more about eating disorders—a few who had been through recovery themselves even let me know that I captured the emotions perfectly, which was wonderful to hear. 
 I also hope that including parts of myself in You are Enough will help readers looking for help understand that they are not alone—that others have been through this struggle and they too can survive and thrive.
What unique challenges did you face in trying to tackle the issue of eating disorder recovery in both novel and nonfiction format?
One of the things I was incredibly conscious about was making sure not to write anything that could possibly trigger a reader…that might make them think that they weren’t sick enough or that might give them an “idea” about a behavior they could do. When I was younger, most of the books on eating disorders were very “after school special” like. They showed people engaging in harmful behaviors, accompanied by dramatic music.
This is the exact thing I aimed to avoid. In Good Enough, I didn’t include numbers, whether that meant Riley’s weight, the calories she was obsessing about, or how long she used to exercise. I never want kids to read my books and think that they should or could do specific disordered behaviors. Above all, I aimed to instill the recovery process with hope, instead of just suffering. Riley grows a lot in Good Enough, and as she recovers she gains parts of herself that she had lost. There’s joy in that process, and it’s wonderful to see that progress in life and in books.
I read that you were also a former librarian (yay!). What did working in libraries teach you about writing for young people?
I loved being a librarian. I worked with teens and children, and the most important thing that I realized was that children are smart. They are wise. A lot of gatekeepers believe that children need to be talked down to and sheltered from what they believe are “tough issues.” But kids deal with a lot in their lives and need to know how others handle things. Tweens and teens are resilient and compassionate and want to feel for and learn from other kids in the books that they read. 
Thanks so much Jen for stopping by!!!

Jen Petro-Roy is a former teen librarian, an obsessive reader, and a trivia fanatic. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in Massachusetts. She is the author of P.S. I Miss YouGood Enough, and You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery. Jen is an eating disorder survivor and an advocate for recovery.    

You can find out more about Jen and her books on her website.

No comments: