Read the chatscript from Jenn Crowell’s February 5, 2014 session of #litchat here.
About Etched On Me from the author’s website: Girl, Interrupted meets Best Kept Secret in this riveting, redemptive coming-of-age story about a young woman who overcomes a troubled adolescence, only to lose custody of her daughter when her mental health history is used against her.
On the surface, sixteen-year-old Lesley Holloway is just another bright new student at Hawthorn Hill, a posh all-girls prep school north of London. Little do her classmates know that she recently ran away from home—where her father had spent years sexually abusing her—and that she now spends her afternoons working in a fish and chip shop and her nights in a dingy hostel. Nor does anyone know that she’s secretly cutting herself as a coping mechanism … until the day she goes too far and ends up in the hospital.
Lesley spends the next two years in and out of psychiatric facilities, overcoming her traumatic memories and finding the support of a surrogate family. Eventually completing university and earning her degree, she is a social services success story—until she becomes unexpectedly pregnant in her early twenties. Despite the many gains she has made and the overwhelming odds she has overcome, the same team that saved her as an adolescent will now question whether Lesley is fit to be a mother. And so she embarks upon her biggest battle yet: the fight for her unborn daughter.
Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, Jenn Crowell found herself the subject of international media attention (including a New York Times photographer documenting her high school graduation) when she signed a two-book contract with Putnam in the spring of 1996, a few weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday.
Her first novel, Necessary Madness, was released to wide critical acclaim the following year, with publicity tours of the US, UK, Italy, and Australia. Following her college graduation (sans NYT), Crowell published Letting the Body Lead in 2002. She then ventured into screenwriting, joining a select group of young independent filmmakers as a 2003 IFP Market Emerging Narrative nominee (for her screenplay adaptation of Necessary Madness) and a 2004 Berlin Film Festival Talent Campus Fellow.
Never one to work by a traditional timetable, she earned her MFA in 2011, 15 years after signing that first contract. She now lives near Portland, Ore. with her husband, young daughter, and two spoiled longhaired dachshunds. Her latest novel, Etched On Me, was published by Washington Square Press in February 2014.