Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Keeping Secrets with Barbara Ehrentreu

If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor
by Barbara Ehrentreu
Buy at MuseItUp Publishing

Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain.

With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?

Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, was inspired by Paula Danziger. Barbara is a NY Literature Examiner for with several articles for them. Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings,, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children's story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She has written book reviews for and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity CafĂ©. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!


In the YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, the main character, Carolyn Samuels, has to keep a lot of secrets from her friends and family. Have you ever had to keep a secret? What was the reason?

Carolyn finds herself in the middle of a very bad situation. She learns a terrible secret about the mean girl who has been bullying her since middle school and she doesn’t know what to do about it. Jennifer Taylor, the mean girl, is no one to cross. So Carolyn starts doing things she would never do. She winds up doing things for Jennifer and she lies to her parents and her best friends. Yet she keeps the secret.

Should she have kept Jennifer’s secret? Maybe she should have told someone. If you find a person who has a serious problem, when is it right to tell on them so they can get help? Are you being helpful by keeping that person’s secret or are you hurting them by keeping the secret?

As the author I felt I had a responsibility to write this story as true to life as possible. In my own life I have had to keep secrets. Sometimes these secrets were very painful, yet my friend or relative depended upon me keeping that secret for them. I felt I could not let them down. Carolyn goes through a lot of soul searching about the secret and in the process of keeping the secret winds up needing to cover up more and more of her own activities to protect the secret. In other words, needing to keep the secret caused a series of events associated with the secret. None of the things that happen to Carolyn happened to me, and also I was a little older than she. But she does have some pretty tempting moments when all she needed to do was reveal Jennifer’s secret and her life would go back to normal.

Does she give Jennifer’s secret away and face the consequences or does she keep it? All the answers are in If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor released by MuseItUp Publishing and available at The Muse Bookstore.


Mom works at Warner, Biddle, Biddle, and Boone, an advertising agency in the city. We live about a half hour away from New York City in a small town in Westchester. I’m used to her working long hours when she has a big job to do. It would have been better to have her home, especially tonight. I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing copying the homework for Jennifer, but Dad is too sleepy tonight for rational answers. So, I’ve kind of put myself at the wrong end of a wet floor, and the space is too great to cross. I’ve got to go through with it.

“Goodnight sweetheart. Oh, I almost forgot, as a special treat, I bought a pint of rocky road ice cream for you.” He gives me a kiss on the cheek as I hug him; then he shuffles upstairs one- step at a time. I follow him upstairs, too. It’s time to do the homework.

The math homework, which is a review test in our book, is easy stuff, and I think I’ve aced it. Anyway, I make two copies, and then I do the rest of my homework. I know this isn’t middle school. We have homework the first night of school.

Didn’t eat my usual two and a half portions at dinner, so I feel hungry, but I’m sick of being too heavy for fashion. I want to look like a lean, sexy dancer in a music video. After my homework is done, I go looking for food. Downstairs the container of rocky road in the freezer is calling me. I ignore it and grab an apple instead. What would it be like to be the right size? Could I be popular? Maybe Jennifer could show me how to be popular. Maybe she could help me learn to tumble so I can try out for cheerleading, my secret passion. The little demon in my head, which won't rest says, Right Carolyn, and maybe tomorrow you’ll be a size four. Jennifer showing me how to be popular is as likely to happen as Brad becoming my boyfriend. Also, what would Becky and Janie think if I started hanging out with Jennifer? I’d lose my two best friends; no, better to stay in my own tight circle. I get into bed and wonder if tomorrow will be the same as today or worse.


  1. I bet your book is burning up the web! Great story. Good luck with it.
    C.K. Volnek

  2. Super cover! I`m sure that the book is even better!