The Transformation of Jennifer Howard
Attitude: Take Care
In Brief: A positive view of a strict Christian community; some ambiguity in the feelings Jennifer has for Wayne; Charles Howard is seeing another woman with his wife's knowledge (but not consent)
Published in: 1992
Age Range: Mid Teens
18-year-old Jennifer Howard is devastated when her older brother dies of AIDS and after a failed suicide attempt, decides to stay for a while in a Shaker-like Christian Community nearby.
Jennifer Howard's father is a successful journalist who is disappointed in his son Derek's apparent lack of ambition. Derek goes to university but drops out into a world of drug abuse, and is eventually infected with HIV from an unclean syringe. His death is inevitable, but the different members of the family are devastated in their different ways. Jennifer attempts to commit suicide by walking into the sea, but is saved by Nils, a young man from the nearby Gleaner Community. She decides to go there for a while, a decision which outrages her father, but things are complicated both by Nils' professed love for Jennifer and by the presence of Wayne, a local of her own age, who's come close to raping her before and for whom she feels some unwilling attraction.
Charles, Jennifer's father, is having an affair with another woman. Jennifer's mother finds out but determines to stay by Charles as he needs her support and she still loves him. She does eventually move out.
Jennifer appears to lead Wayne on when he starts to seduce her and is initially willing to give into Nils, although she stops short when she realises that it would cause him to go against his chosen lifestyle.
The people of the Gleaner community are real people, holding to a certain way of life which rejects television and violence but which they make work for them and for the people who come to them for help.
Jennifer has held back from physical love, not out of any moral compunction, but just to have the best time of it when it happens
Tuesday 1st January 2002