Jennifer Erin Valent’s debut novel won the Christian Writers’ Guild Operation First Novel Contest in 2007 and has just been released by Tyndale. I am looking forward to reading it and posting a review.
Find out more about Jennifer’s main character in this Southern tale below:~
Jessilyn is tall for her age and has sandy hair, freckles and dramatic green eyes that prompt the boys to call her Jessie The Cat. She doesn’t think she’s particularly pretty or interesting to look at, but she hopes she’s fetching enough to attract the attention of her first love, Luke Talley. The minute I saw Becca Gardner in An Unfinished Life I thought, “That’s Jessie!” Her appearance as well as her personality in the film completely brought Jessilyn to life for me.
Strengths and weaknesses
Jessilyn’s strengths are definitely her loyalty and boldness. Sometimes they get her into trouble, but I love her fiery spirit and willingness to stand up to any battle. Her weaknesses are stubbornness and a quick temper, but I have a feeling she’ll grow out of that… almost.
She doesn’t make friends easily, hates wearing dresses and loves to watch thunderstorms.
I think I unwittingly drew from Anne Shirley of Anne Of Green Gables as an inspiration for Jessilyn. I’ve seen the Anne Of Green Gables films so many times, those characters are embedded in my imagination. Anne and Jessilyn are both scrappy, imaginative girls who love books and are fiercely loyal to a very dear friend.
It’s the summer of 1932 and Jessilyn Lassiter is just turning thirteen and developing her first crush. But tragedy strikes when her best friend, Gemma Teague, loses her parents in a house fire. Jessilyn’s family takes her in even though Gemma is black and Jessilyn’s family is white, which doesn’t go over too well in their small Southern Virginia town. Suddenly, Jessilyn’s life is turned upside down by the far-reaching violence of the Ku Klux Klan and by the crushing fear that she may have killed a man in self-defense.
Jennifer – thanks so much for sharing about Jessilyn and I trust Fireflies in December is just the start of your writing career
Relz Reviewz Extras
Check out Jennifer’s collaborative blog on writing, Novel Matters