Guest Post: Jessica Brody

So, my combo review-and-giveaway of MY LIFE UNDECIDED by Jessica Brody was a while ago, but Jessica's back again with not a spunky, feel-good novel but a 100% honest story of her own high school experiences -- with the same spunk, of course. It goes to show that while high school can be a painful and toilsome process, it also sparks some of the best ideas. ;)



I guess I should have seen it coming. I wrote a book about decisions so it’s only natural that people would ask me to guest blog about…you guessed it…decisions!

In my new novel, MY LIFE UNDECIDED, 15 year-old Brooklyn Pierce is notorious for making horrible decisions. So she starts an anonymous blog and posts all of her decisions on there with a poll, asking her readers to vote on what she should do. But she soon discovers that some things in life simply aren’t a choice…like who you fall in love with.

When Books at Midnight asked me to write a blog post about an important decision from my own teenage years, I immediately knew which one I wanted to divulge.

Let us go back X years ago (where X is an indeterminate number equal to the sum of the years between today’s date and the date I started high school)

High school was hard. I’m not gonna lie. I didn’t really fit in. At least not easily. And all the things I tried to do in order to fit in, I didn’t do very well. And that’s probably due to the fact that the primary reason I chose to try those activities was not because I enjoyed them or because I was good at them, but because I believed they would make me more popular. And oh how I longed to be popular. Or at the very least known. By more than a few peers and teachers at least.

I think it’s pretty safe to say, I was fairly invisible in high school.

At the beginning of freshman year I tried out for the gymnastics team. Why? Because I saw them at the pep rally flipping their way across the gym floor and I envied the way everyone cheered for them. And how adorable they looked in their little leotards and warm-up pants. And I thought, if I joined the gymnastics team, maybe then I would be popular. Maybe then people would know my name.

Only one flaw in that plan…although I’d taken gymnastics for several years, I really really stunk at it. But I went to try-outs anyway. I was told by the coach (who was very nice, by the way) that you had to be able to do at least 1 back handspring to get on the team. Could I do a back handspring? No. But I tried anyway and I fell on my face. Literally. And my hopes of becoming one of those cute leotard-sporting back flippers that everyone cheered for went right out the window.

i wanna look like that too... // the US gymnastics team!

So after that, I decided to try out for the school musical. Surely being on a stage would get people to notice me. How could they not? I’d be standing directly under a spotlight. But that didn’t go so well either. The next morning when that elusive piece of paper was taped to the outside of the theatre door, I searched for my name like everywhere else. And it appeared. But not exactly where I thought it would. It was listed under “crew.”

The theatre director apparently thought I’d be better back stage than center stage. Which was pretty much the story of my life thus far.

So I turned down my assigned “role” and decided to try my luck elsewhere.

It wasn’t until the second semester of freshman year that my best friend asked if I would join the speech team with her. Notice she said, “join” and not “try-out.” Because at my school, you didn’t have to try out for the speech team. Whoever wanted to be on it, was on it!

This did have a certain appeal since clearly the whole “try out” process wasn’t going too well for me. But I didn’t like the fact that no one had ever really heard of the speech team. Most people at our school didn’t even know we had one. And if they did, it certainly wasn’t considered as cool and elite as the gymnastics team, or the cheerleading squad.

The speech team was, in a word, obscure. Like me. And that was the very thing I was trying to escape from. Obscurity.

Joining the speech team certainly wasn’t going to make me popular. I was sure of that. But I decided to give it a try anyway. Mostly because my friend asked me to and I didn’t want to disappoint her.

Well, it turned out the speech team was perfect for me. It’s where I finally found my place in high school. Where I met my real friends. Where I felt accepted.

I was good at it, too. Junior year, I even placed second at the state competition. Of course, I didn’t exactly receive the same recognition as if I’d placed second at the state gymnastics competition but by that time I no longer cared. I’d received recognition where it mattered…amongst the people that mattered to me. I had found my “niche.” And to survive high school, everyone needs a “niche” in high school.

Some niches are bigger than others. Some make bigger impressions than others. Some are recognized by more people. But the very definition of a “niche” is not where you think you want to fit in, but where you do fit in. And mine just happened to be here.

My decision to end my quest for high school fame (which probably would have continued down the same dead end road it started on) and follow a path that better suited me, has had long term repercussions in my life. The speech team instilled confidence in me that still remains today. Plus it certainly comes in handy now that I’m an author and have to speak in front of people on a regular basis. And it even inspired a certain love storyline that can be found in my latest book, MY LIFE UNDECIDED.

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And although, I’m sure being able to do a back handspring would have made a pretty cool story to tell at parties X years later, I’ll take the obscure second place trophy that still sits on a shelf in my parent’s house any day.


Jessica Brody is the bestselling author of THE KARMA CLUB and the recently released, MY LIFE UNDECIDED, about a decisionally-challenged teen girl who places her fate in the hands of her blog readers. Jessica’s books have been published in over ten languages and a few have recently been optioned for film. Visit her online at, follow her on Twitter @jessicabrody, and check out her new book website,