I remember the thrill I felt when I first saw my native New Jersey featured in a Judy Blume novel back when I was a kid. How could this be? No book I’d ever read was set in New Jersey.
Growing up in New Jersey is a bit like growing up a plain girl with a tremendously hot, famous older sister. New York City, just five miles from where I grew up, sucks up all the oxygen in the area with its iconic attractions and world-class nightlife and art scene. No one goes on vacation to New Jersey, unless they’re already from New Jersey. And then, of course, there are all the late-night jokes. I had never thought of it as the type of place you’d set a book in until Judy Blume (also a native New Jersey-an) taught me otherwise.
I love New Jersey passionately. It is a wonderful place to grow up – close enough to all the unparalleled entertainment (and with plenty of its own) but far enough to offer easy escapes to beautiful forest and outdoor spaces. So when the time came to choose a setting for my novel, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY, I turned to the old adage “write what you know” and set it in New Jersey.
Recently, a friend and fellow author wrote a piece for the New Jersey Association of School Libraries created a list of recent books set in the Garden State (yes, it really is as beautiful as a garden… you should come check it out!). And she included TSSoE. Looking for a list of great books that just happen to feature some Jersey sass? Click here to check out the list.