When Deenie sees the brace for the first time, she wants to scream, Forget it...I'm never going to wear that thing! But the words won't come out. And beautiful Deenie, who everyone says should be a model, is stuck wearing a brace from her neck to her hips. What will her friends think? And what about Buddy Brader, who was just starting to like her? A tough ride to finding out who you are.
I met a lively fourteen year old girl with scoliosis. She seemed to be adjusting well to her condition and her brace but her mother was in tears over the situation. The basic idea for the book came from that meeting. Everything else about the family is fiction. I set the book in the town where I grew up—Elizabeth, New Jersey—and sent Deenie and her friends to my junior high school. I think of the story as one about parental expectations. Deenie's mother says: Deenie's the beauty, Helen's the brain. What happens when a parent pigeon-holes her children that way?
I couldn't think of anything so I decided to keep it simple and go with Deenie, a name that comes from one of my favorite movies, Splendor in the Grass. This is the movie Deenie's mom saw right before she was born.
Janie is the girl who gave me the idea for the book.