Hello, Jen Petro-Roy! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! I’m honored you returned to talk about your two forthcoming books, Good Enough and You Are Enough. I know both books are going to help so many people struggling with and recovering from eating disorders. Let’s start by discussing Good Enough. Why did you tell Riley’s story?
Jen Petro-Roy: Riley’s story is one that has been growing in my head and in my heart for years, ever since I was struggling with and recovering from an eating disorder myself. It wasn’t until now, with enough distance from my past, that I could sit down and again immerse myself in the head space of someone struggling with an eating disorder. One of the things I wanted to do with Riley—and with the fellow patients she meets in the hospital—is to make them real. Real people with real problems and feelings, not just a collection of symptoms and behaviors. I didn’t want to preach, either to kids or to parents—instead I wanted to show the reader how it truly feels to have an eating disorder and how those feelings can make recovery so hard. So many people think of eating disorders as affecting teenagers or college kids, but that’s not true. Anyone can suffer, and kids and middle schoolers are struggling more and more. That’s why when I wrote this, I wanted to be aware of my reader. I don’t use any language that could trigger my readers or “give them ideas” and I made sure to show why Riley decides to recovery and how hard—and rewarding and valuable—recovery is. Yes, I hope this book is a good book, but I also hope it’s a window into a mindset that so few understand unless they have been there themselves.
|Publication Date: February 19, 2019|
I love Good Enough's cover. What's the significance of the eyes?
Jen Petro-Roy: I love this cover. It was designed by the amazing Liz Dresner and the art was done by Romy Blümel. It’s so different than that of my debut, P.S. I Miss You, and so striking. In Good Enough, Riley is an artist, and her passion for drawing has waned as she fell into the world of her eating disorder. As the novel progress, Riley starts to rekindle that love again, and begins to draw the faces of herself and her loved ones. I also love how the eyes are a subtle nod to how, when you struggle with an eating disorder or body image, you always feel like you are being watched. Your life and your body become something to cultivate, something others are always watching. The eyes show this without putting an actual body on the cover. (Because eating disorders aren’t really about bodies or food after all.)
|Publication Date: February 19, 2019|
Do you view You Are Enough as a non-fiction companion to Good Enough?
Jen Petro-Roy: Absolutely, although it 100% stands on its own. You Are Enough is a guide to recovery where I talk about my own journey and give information and advice to the tween and teen age group. One of the things my editors and I worked really hard on is to make this an incredibly inclusive guide—I talk about the dangers and challenges of various types of eating disorders and interviewed various experts and advocates. I talk about how hard recovery can be for males and for those in LGBTQIAP+ population, for those with chronic illnesses and for those who are neurodiverse. I write about the fat acceptance movement and how people of any size can get eating disorders. And I talk about the problems kids may face in trying to achieve recovery: with their friends, with their family, and with society. It’s a toolbox for recovery and a book that would hopefully help Riley and her fellow patients in Good Enough.
While You Are Enough is written for young readers with disordered eating and body image problems, why is it important for teachers, librarians, and caretakers to read it?
Jen Petro-Roy: Teachers, librarians, and caretakers (along with friends) are the ones who may notice when a kid or a teen is struggling with disordered eating or body image. They’re also the ones who can help. When I was sick, it was hard to ask for help, because some part of me wanted to remain sick. That’s why it’s so important for teachers and librarians to practice empathy, to be able to understand how the mind of someone with an eating disorder works, and what may or may not be helpful in convincing someone to take that first step toward recovery. I’m hoping my books can help, too.
Please finish these sentence starters:
Story is everything. It’s how we make sense of the world, how we relate to other people, how we find joy, and how we learn to empathize to those who are different than us.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about what else I’m doing along with the release of these books. I’m currently working on setting up a program where I’ll be visiting schools, parent groups, and community organizations to talk about body image and disordered eating in kids and teens. I’ll be talking about my own journey, how society is structured to make us feel bad about ourselves, and how kids can work to strengthen their own self esteem. I’m calling it EmpowerED and I’m hoping to start visits in the next school year! I can be contacted for this through my website.
Thank you, Jen! Congratulations!