Author Jarrett Lerner on Connecting through Personal Struggles- PLUS A GIVEAWAY!

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Hello world!!

Welcome to my blog, Blissfully Bookish! I’m excited to introduce my next guest, an author / illustrator who my own daughter was obsessed with when she was younger; Jarrett Lerner. His work is beloved by children around the world and I’m amazed at his range. He joins us today to discuss his latest middle grade novel A WORK IN PROGRESS published by Aladdin HC/ S&S.

BUT first- YAY! JARRETT is generously giving away a FREE copy of A WORK IN PROGRESS. To be eligible to win, please enter the Rafflecopter contest by clicking HERE. Contest ends May 26, 2023US only.

Please describe the journey to publication for A Work in Progress.

Journey is the perfect word to use. And it’s probably even fair to call the journey an epic one. I started trying to tell this story in college, but could never get it out in a way that felt authentic and complete. Every so often, I picked the manuscript back up, and tried to tweak my approach to the story in a way that allowed me to more satisfactorily get it out. Not until a few years ago did one of those many experiments actually succeed. And even once I discovered the proper approach and format for the story, it still took me about three years to get it to the place it is now.

I know you drew inspiration for this book from your own experience with disordered eating. When and how did you decide to share something so personal to you?

Despite the fact that I’ve been trying to tell this story for well over a decade, I wasn’t sure, once I got it out of me, I’d ever actually share it. That decision was a tough one, and I only arrived at it after discussing it thoroughly with my wife, my agent, and my editor. And even after I made the decision, I was still torn about it. Now, though, I’ve finally arrived at a place where I feel wholly comfortable and thankful I followed through and am now sharing this book with the world. And I think what got me there was being able to see the book start to do some good, especially for kids. To assure them they are not alone in their insecurities and struggles and fears, and that they can seek help, should they ever want and need it.

I love the authenticity of the text and illustrations. Was writing the book difficult, compared to other projects that don’t carry so much history and emotion? How did you cope?

Every book provides plenty of challenges – but yes, there were more challenges for this book than any other thus far, because all of these personal (and heretofore totally private) aspects of it. At first, I didn’t cope well. But I learned, throughout the process, that I had to give myself grace, and had to stay on top of my mood and state of mind so that, if I was getting to a unhelpful or unhealthy place, I could step away and do something (go for a walk, talk to my wife, play with my kids) to lift my spirits again. Even so, there were periods of working on the book that were absolutely brutal. I was immensely relieved when the book was finally declared finished.

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.

Please share some resources for children/teens who may be experiencing a negative view of themselves or may be engaging in eating disorders.

Here are the resources – and important accompanying statement – provided at the end of the book:

Some organizations working to improve the lives of people suffering from mental illness are listed below. This listing is being provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be either an endorsement or promotion of any listed organization, nor does it imply that such organizations have been endorsed by the author or publisher. It is also not intended to be a complete or exhaustive listing or a substitute for the advice of a qualified medical or mental health professional.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to other writers?

I spent years writing the sorts of stories that I believed other people wanted me to write – but the biggest breakthrough of my creative life came when I finally allowed to myself to write precisely the sorts of stories that I wanted to write.

And a bonus question just for kicks! Would you rather forget the ending of every book shortly after reading it OR not be able to re-read a book ever again?

Oh wow – this is a toughie! I feel like I forget endings anyway. And it’s more about the journey, not the destination, right? So, I’d go with the first option. I feel like knowing I’d never be able to re-read a book ever again, having to say bye to each one (forever) at the end, would bum me out way too much.


Jarrett Lerner is the award-winning creator of more than a dozen books for kids, including the EngiNerds series of middle grade novels, the Geeger the Robot series of early chapter books, the Hunger Heroes series of graphic novel chapter books, two activity books, the illustrated novel in verse A Work in Progress, and the Nat the Cat series of early readers. You can find him online at and on Twitter and Instagram at @Jarrett_Lerner. He lives with his wife and daughters in Massachusetts.



11 thoughts on “Author Jarrett Lerner on Connecting through Personal Struggles- PLUS A GIVEAWAY!

    Linda Hume said:
    May 26, 2023 at 4:30 pm

    Can’t wait to get this into our students’ hands next year!


    Cheryl Johnson said:
    May 22, 2023 at 12:49 pm

    I cannot wait to read this book … and recommend it to others!


    Angie said:
    May 21, 2023 at 11:09 pm

    I’m so glad you were able to put this into a book. What a wonderful resource for so many kids! Thank you!


    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 21, 2023 at 11:22 am

    Comment from Deborah Williams: Three cheers for a book that deals with weight issues. It’s sure to help a lot of kids!


    […] Blissfully Bookish: Author Jarrett Lerner on Connecting through Personal Struggles […]


    Lori Tecler said:
    May 19, 2023 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing about this book. I will definitely be adding it to my school’s media center collection. So many kids need to hear this story!


    seschipper said:
    May 18, 2023 at 11:27 pm

    I have been following Jarrett’s posts, they are always great. This book will be a great addition to classroom book collections! 🙂


    Jilanne Hoffmann said:
    May 18, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    What a powerful book! I’m glad you finally decided to share this. It’s so important for kids (and adults) to read!


    Norah said:
    May 18, 2023 at 8:27 am

    What an amazing book. It will be of great importance to so many kids – even adult kids – who feel the message is written just for them.


    CJ Penko said:
    May 17, 2023 at 5:22 pm

    As a mama to a bigger 4th grader who is now reading his own autographed copy: thank you, Jarrett. This is everything. I can’t imagine the strength it took to put this out there but the amount of kids (and adults) you’re touching is truly amazing. Thank you. We can’t say it enough. ❤️❤️❤️

    And thanks so much for sharing Lydia! Saw the pic of you at the bookstore with your book on display- AWESOME. So happy for you! 😍 🪸🦑🌊


    Stephanie Owen said:
    May 17, 2023 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! This topic needs to be discussed. Thank you also for your advice on writing. It’s good to remember we all have a story to tell in our own way.


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