It's my pleasure to welcome fellow MuseItUp author
Barbara Ehrentreuwho has brought along her main character, Carolyn, to talk about the YA novel in which she appears called,
'If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor'.
Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being
popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her
too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when
she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the
girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is
going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky
junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of
middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym
class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for
Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t
be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites
Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn
learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will
Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s
secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?
I spot him walking toward my locker with a small box
in one hand and a plastic fork in the other. My Crush! He hands me the box, and
I open it. Inside is a piece of luscious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.
I look up into his blue eyes and give him the box so I can touch his cheek as I
smooth his dark hair.
“You always know just what I like.”
He smiles and feeds me a forkful of cake. I don’t
have to worry about eating it because I can eat anything I want and not gain
weight. He places the cake box in my locker so he can put his arms around me.
The first bell
rings in my ears. I ignore it because I’m thin and blonde and floating in the
arms of my dark-haired crush. The other cheerleaders run up to us laughing and
kidding around, and I’m about to speak. The ringing gets
The dream evaporates, and I realize it’s the darn
alarm piercing my sleep. Slamming my fist onto the Snooze button, I get this
nagging feeling. Then I remember. I have something to do. Worse luck, I have
to do it, not as the slender blonde beauty in my dream, but as the real Carolyn
Samuels with my brown curly hair hanging like shriveled spaghetti, mud brown
eyes, and a body too large for fashion.I see my new book bag is packed and ready by the door
with the initials C. S. in blue, my favorite color. Suddenly it hits me, and I
get this dizzy let-me-plop-on-the-pillow feeling.
Freshman year of
high school—first day. My brain is ready, but my body isn't.
Jennifer will be there. Math class and Jennifer; gym
class with Jennifer. My body curls into a fetal position, and I throw the covers
over my head. Don’t faint Carolyn, I tell myself, panting.
Dangling over the chair are those size twelve jeans,
clown pants—hardly a fashion statement. I groan. Paired with the red
long-sleeved T-shirt, they looked so good on the mannequin; I’ll look like a
What was I thinking? How could I possibly go to
school looking like such a freak?
Actually, the real reason I can’t go is Jennifer,
with her long straight blonde hair, perfect body, and clothes from magazines
like Teen and Seventeen.
Yuck. I feel sick, sick with Jenniferitis.
I hear Mom's footsteps on the stairs.
"Why are you still in bed?" She comes upstairs and
peeks into my room with a puzzled look on her face
Moving the blanket up to my nose, I say, "Mom, I
can't stop shivering, and my stomach and head hurt.”
She feels my head and looks
at me with mother vision. "Carolyn, did you think I'd fall for your tricks?"
I cringe. Now my stomach and head ache for real.
Defeated, I climb out of bed and get washed. I slip the hated outfit onto my
body and glance at my bloated reflection in the mirror. It's too late to change.
I’m stuck with this. If only I could be like Jennifer Taylor.
After picking up my book bag, I race down the stairs,
take a couple of bites of a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin and a few sips of
non-fat milk. I almost trip over a lump blocking the door. Max, our five-year
old Newfoundland raises his massive bear-like head, sniffing like he’s never
eaten a thing in his life when he sees my muffin. I glance at his empty bowl and
throw the rest of the muffin into it. He sees it and licks my face; now I’m
going to smell like dog food all day. Grabbing a paper towel, I wipe my face and
lean to ruffle his soft fur. At least Max doesn’t care what I wear. Feed him and
rub him under his chin, and he’ll cover you with slurpy kisses.
Mom is already in our three-year-old silver Malibu
that, like my jeans, doesn't quite make a fashion statement.
On the drive to school, I'm
looking forward to seeing Becky and Janie my two best friends from forever.
Don't want to see Jennifer's face on the first day of high school.
Barbara interviews her main character, Carolyn Samuels, from If I Could Be Like
Carolyn, would you please tell us a little about
There’s not much
to tell. I live in Mill Valley, which is in Westchester, NY and I attend Mill
Valley High School. My best friends are Becky and Janie and I love Math. Oh,
yeah, I have a Newfoundland dog named Max and my favorite cookie is chocolate
chocolate chip homemade by my mom. My mom works for an ad agency in the city.
That’s what New Yorkers call New York City. My dad is a criminal lawyer. I’m an
only child, but you couldn’t ask for better parents. Except they don’t pay much
attention to me.
On the surface it looks like you have a great life.
Why, then did you come to me one day crying and telling me you hated Jennifer
Taylor and she made your life miserable? Who is Jennifer Taylor and why do you
has made my life a living nightmare since middle school. I call her Miss
Perfect, because she is a size two and her father owns half the town. She’s on
the path to be an Olympic gymnast so she’s excellent in gym. Jennifer is the
most popular girl in the freshman class. I think she knows everyone in the
class. And to top it all off she has this hot boyfriend, Brad, who is a Junior
and the quarterback for our football team. He’s so amazing and I don’t think
she deserves to be with him. Okay, maybe I have a crush on Brad myself.
What happened last year on the first day of school?
I’m not sure I can
talk about this, because it brings back awful memories. Do you want me to go
all the way back to the rope line incident? I mean that’s what started all
Yes, tell us as much as you can.
Well, I got up on
the first day of school after having this incredible dream where I was popular
and a cheerleader and my boyfriend fed me a piece of chocolate cake because I
was thin and blonde and didn’t gain weight. Of course the truth is I am a
little overweight and my hair is dark brown and hangs like shriveled spaghetti.
But still this was a great dream, wouldn’t you agree? I wanted to stay in bed,
because when my alarm rang I realized I might run into Jennifer Taylor.
You see I hate her
and I also want to be like her. It’s awful and here’s how it started. When I
was in seventh grade we did the ropes course. One part of it , the zip line,
required you to climb up to this platform and you were given a harness. When
you got up there you had to clasp yourself to the line and then you could slide
down. A few people went in front of me and then of course, Jennifer did it
perfectly. When my turn came I froze. Then I started breathing funny, because I
have this thing. I hyperventilate when I’m nervous and that day I started
turning blue. If I can’t start breathing I can faint. I started feeling dizzy
and couldn’t clasp myself onto the zip line. Jennifer was on the ground and saw
me. The teacher saw me too and raced up the ladder to the platform. She said to
me, “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Then Jennifer started saying too and soon all
the kids who had been on the line echoed her. As I came down the ladder I wanted
a big hole to open up and swallow me. So then Jennifer started bothering me at
odd times every day. She’d sneak up and say “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Or she
would whisper it in class when I had to go up to the board. We were in Math
class together and I started to dread it. So when I was in her Math class again
and the teacher put us together as partners I didn’t know how I could stand it.
Well the first day
of school after being pushed together with her for a Math project I was put in
front of her in line for gym. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden I
didn’t want to be anywhere near Jennifer and I started hyperventilating until I
fainted. I guess that’s when I got connected to Jennifer in a much more serious
Oh, my goodness, your story has more to it?
Oh yes, I learned
way too much about Jennifer and wound up holding her secrets for a long time. I
mean, I did meet Brad and well, I don’t think I can say anymore. This is all
really painful to talk about, you know?
I guess if you want to learn more about what happened that
year you will have to read the book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor
from MuseItUp Publishing in print or as an ebook.
Thank you, Wendy, for hosting us today.
My pleasure, Carolyn. I know talking about these
things is hard for you, but you did very well.
Wendy: Well that was an interesting interview. Thank you Barbara and Carolyn. It is clear Carolyn has been most forthcoming with her author. Sometimes when we stand back and listen we learn much more than if we probe.