Winner of the 2017 Margaret and John Savage First Book Award – Non-Fiction!
Jen Powley was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at fifteen. By thirty-five, she had lost the use of her arms and legs.
Just Jen is a powerful memoir that tells the story of Powley’s life at the time of her diagnosis, and the infinite, irrevocable ways it has changed since. Powley’s writing pulls no punches. She is lively, bold and unapologetic, answering questions people are often afraid to ask about living with a progressive disease. And yet, these snapshots from Powley’s life are not tinged with anger or despair. Just Jen is a powerful, uplifting and unforgettable work by an author who has laid her life — and her body — bare in order to survive.
At its core, Just Jen is a story about realistic hope. Powley shows us what it means to fully engage with the world on our own terms.
Just Jen will make you laugh, cry, and really see the vulnerability and truth of one courageous woman.
This memoir is a gift to read. In her uncompromising demand for an authentic life, Jen Powley boldly leads us down the rocky roads she’s had to navigate with her career, lovers, and a rotating cast of roommates and assistants. Even as she illuminates some of the darkest corners of her disease, Powley’s resilience, humanity and scrappy sense of humour shine through on every page.
Powley is fearless, not only in the way she lives her life but also in her willingness to call the rest of us on our b-s in the way we too often deal with people with disabilities. But she does it all with a self-deprecating wit and a twinkle in her eye that makes us want to be better than we are.
I was absolutely gutted in the best possible way as I read Jen Powley’s memoir. The determination, resilience and humour that she displays in both her life and in her writing make this a must read. Her treatment of human relationships and sexuality are frank, brave and heartbreakingly human. I love this book and so will you.
Jen Powley’s intimate and provocative writing will wake you up. Jen brings insight, compassion, and humour to these memorable stories of living ‘waist high’ among family, friends, and lovers. Trust this writer: she’s the real thing.