Promo & Signed Giveaway: Etched on Me by Jenn Crowell

by - Tuesday, February 04, 2014

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Imprint: Atria
Sub-Imprint: Washington Square Press
Format: Paperback

ISBN-13: 9781476739069
US Price: $15.00

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. 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, where she overcomes her traumatic memories and finds 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 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.

Jenn Crowell’s debut, Necessary Madness, was released when she was just 19; her second novel, Letting the Body Lead, when she was only 24. Both were critically acclaimed and reviewers marveled at the wisdom, maturity, and depth of feeling expressed by so young a writer. Over the next ten years, Jenn earned her MFA, but also underwent treatment for depression and self-harm—issues that she writes about so vividly in her latest novel, ETCHED ON ME (Atria/Washington Square Press, February 4, 2014).

Partially inspired by Jenn’s own experiences, ETCHED ON ME is also loosely based on the harrowing story of a young British woman who fled her home country in 2007 when she was nearly eight months pregnant. UK Social Services had ordered that she would be forced to surrender custody of her child within minutes of giving birth, due to her mental health history (raped at 14, she had suffered depression and instances of self-harm during her adolescence). Despite receiving treatment and being granted a clean bill of health, she was still considered a risk to her unborn child. Jenn learned of the case while deeply immersed in new motherhood herself, and having overcome her own mental health struggles, she was deeply moved by the story.

With ETCHED ON ME, Jenn Crowell takes her storytelling to new heights as she beautifully unpacks the legacy of sexual abuse, examines the complexities of the relationships we form when our blood families fail us, and raises fascinating questions about the nature of social services and health care in a bureaucratic system. As thought-provoking as it is riveting, ETCHED ON ME is an ultimately life-affirming story that will deepen readers’ understanding and compassion, and perhaps make them reevaluate preconceptions they might have about women who suffer from mental illness and mothers who, for whatever reason, must fight for custody of their children.

Jenn is a compelling writer, and she has a talent for creating sympathetic and relatable characters.

Have you ever wanted something so much, it’s not a desire so much as a beacon? Have you ever prayed for it so hard your fingernails curl into your palms and your eyes squinch shut and your whole body just hums?

My daughter is that simple, shining thing. Taken from me under bright lights in a white room, my stitches still raw. I fought so much they put me in hard restraints. I screamed so loudly they shot me up with sedative.

When I resurfaced, the blood had soaked through my hospital gown. I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. It was as if my body was weeping for me. Just like before, only this time it wasn’t me who was making it happen. I felt floaty and exhausted. Closed my eyes.

“Come on, Les, stay awake.” Immi, shaking my tied-down arm from the left side of the bed. “Your solicitor’s going to ring soon.”

I opened my eyes again. Stared at the opposite wall’s watercolor portrait of a budding rose, its outlines like those of the mandala coloring book pages Clare and I used to color in at The Phoenix.

Shit. Now I was crying, flapping my tethered hands in useless flail.

Behind me, I felt Gloria’s hand stroking my hair. “All right. Shh. Just try to stay calm, sweetheart.”

Yes. Calm. That was what I needed to be, so I could get unbound, so I could reach for the phone when it rang, hold it in my own grip. I’ve grown pretty used to extreme highs and lows in my twenty-two years of life, but that had to be the nadir: aspiring to have my restraints taken off, in order to take a call from my solicitor to discuss my child protection case.

They’d just untied me when he came on the line. “It’s a temporary order, not a long-term arrangement. We’ll demand full visitation rights whilst she’s being fostered. Battle this all the way to the European High Court if we have to.”

Six months later, we’re still battling. In silence. I can’t say a word to the media now, no matter how much I might want to go back on breakfast TV, no longer mild-mannered and plaintive, but a warrior mum instead. One public statement, and my face could wind up in a mugshot taken at a North London women’s prison. So I keep my mouth shut, and wait in drafty corridors, and scribble notes on my solicitor’s cast-off pads. Some of them are to him (Mention positive parenting evaluation? Ask for evening and weekend visit hours?), but most of them are for me, and for her. No sappy “Dear Daughter” missives, just fervent snippets: I want to bury my face in your fuzzy hair until the end of time. If I win, it’ll be for all of us phoenix-girls.


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, fifteen years after signing that first contract. She now lives near Portland, Oregon with her husband, young daughter, and two spoiled longhaired dachshunds. Her latest novel, Etched On Me, is due out from Washington Square Press in February 2014.

(1) Signed paperback copy of Etched on Me by Jenn Crowell (US/Canada ONLY)

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Age 18 and over please. Ecopy giveaways are international. Signed/Unsigned paperback or swag giveaways are US only unless otherwise specified. Giveaway will run 02/04/14 to 02/18/14 closing at 12:00 a.m. Winner will be notified via email. Winner has 48 hours to claim their prize; otherwise, a new winner will be chosen. Please allow time (up to two weeks, unless stated otherwise) for the delivery of your book. If you have not received your book within the started time please notify us. In addition, In addition, if the book has yet to release please keep in mind that the book will be distributed within two weeks of it's release date.

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  1. Thank you so much for featuring ETCHED ON ME and offering the giveaway, Tammy and Kim!