Once upon a time, there was a girl called Jen. Visually Jen was inspired by ANTM contestant Ashely Molina who during cycle 22 was seen as Michael Heverly’s love interest (until she received the bottom score for being “too sexy.” Her transformation from girly curls to tomboy chic came from her ANTM look but the name Jen- that’s a story all it’s own.
An early draft of my novel featured a handful of Jennys who behaved in a typical mean girl fashion. Tall, beautiful freshman Jenny Q was a hot girl on the arm of a hot guy. Until she saw what that life entailed. Sophomore year, at the age of 15 she decided to make a change.
As I mentioned in my John Green Girls blog post, Jen’s personality was inspired by Margo of Paper Towns.
Both Jen and Margo were essentially hated by their parents (especially their mothers.) And both experienced traumatic events that caused them to want to escape their ‘Paper Towns’ (for Margo that is Florida, for Jen- North Dakota), to chase the dream of happiness, and freedom. For Margo that dream is New York, a place where she can reinvent herself, but for Jen the dream is a little different.
Jen wants a family, a place to call home but that ambition is just as difficult.
Jen Quinto was born into a life of emotional pain. Her older brother was sick with cancer and she was conceived for the sole purpose of becoming an organ and tissue donor. For what’s it worth she was a match and her body parts gave her brother a few extra years, but life is not always a ‘happily ever after.’ After his death Jen bore the full burden of her mother’s sadness and anger. It was as if on some physiological level she believed that Jen’s inability to save her brother meant she was a failure as a person. All while her father was forced to play referee, to try to keep the peace. Throughout her life of loneliness, Jen thought no one would be able to heal her pain. In her teen years she turned to a life of sex and drugs. And then she met Sean, the rock star angel with the surfer hair, soulful eyes, and her brother’s courageous lust for life.
Jen wants to help him become her sidekick, her partner. Having lived with cystic fibrosis his entire life, Sean knows what it means to hurt, to suffer but also to rise above.
And together they will learn how to live and love.
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