Jane Learning is an introspective, wild and rebellious teen. The 17-year-old is also deeply passionate and caring.
But the character in Brooke Carter’s latest young adult novel, called Learning Seventeen, is also a lesbian, the reason why her parents enroll her in a Baptist Reform School.
However, Jane has no interest in reforming and falls in love with a girl named Hannah.
Carter describes her latest book as edgy, upper adult. The book is technically for those 15 years and older, but Carter notes that the book has content geared more towards older teens.
“It’s a love story, a teenage love story and it’s also a parental love story as well,” said Carter.
The Maple Ridge author was inspired to write this novel partly based on personal experience, growing up in a Baptist home, and also just from being a teenager who didn’t fit into her parent’s expectations. She enjoys writing from the point of view of the outsider.
“When I started this book it was just the voice of the main character Jane and how she did not want to go along with what everybody wanted her to be,” Carter said adding that Jane was expected to tow the line and play along with everyone’s expectations of her.
But, Carter says, when Jane meets Hannah, it gives her something to look forward to.
“It gives her a goal, graduating, getting out of this reform school. So she has the motivation for the future and for the first time she has hopes and dreams for herself that she can realize,” Carter explained.
Carter hopes her book conveys the message that even though when you are young, everybody else makes decisions for you, that doesn’t last long.
“At some point you are going to be free to be who you are. And if you are having a hard time achieving that or doing that, you’ve got to find a way to get through,” said Carter.
“And sometimes the best thing is just to make a friend, teacher or somebody you can talk to who accepts you for who you are,” she said.