From a Q & A with Jenny Hollowell about her new novel, Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe:
Birdie leaves home because she cannot embrace her family's religious evangelism, yet the fame she hopes for requires nearly the same leap of faith as the next life her parents are awaiting. What is the connection between Birdie's and her family's respective desires to be transformed?Visit Jenny Hollowell's website.
Everyone wants to feel their life is important in some way. Whether you are in church on Sunday or in line at an audition for a reality TV show, I think you are revealing a very basic human desire. You want to be seen by someone, really seen. You want to know that you matter. I don't think it is a coincidence that our culture is so captivated by fame and religion at the same moment. To me, these obsessions are not contradictory. They are illustrative of our desire as human beings to feel our lives are meaningful.
Both pursuits require sacrifices. Birdie's parents spend their lives devoted to their evangelism. They don't have hobbies or social lives or anything that might be perceived as self- centered. There is no doubt they have selfish desires—they are human, after all—but they have subjugated them to keep God at the forefront of their lives.
Having lived in a house hold that ran on faith, Birdie naturally has these same resources. She is very much her mother's daughter in the sense that she has staked everything on one hope. The sacrifices Birdie makes—delaying gratification, enduring ridicule, accepting uncomfortable circumstances in the pursuit of a greater reward—are behaviors she learned from her family. In a way, faith is the family business.
Was your own religious background on your mind as you were writing this novel? How did it affect your thinking about Birdie's relationship to faith?
I grew up in...[read on]