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Shirley Jump | The Ugly Duckling and Victoria’s Secret Models–Really Something to Talk About

December 4, 2007

The Ugly Duckling. Poor little guy, ostracized by the ducks because they thought he was ugly, not knowing he’d grow up to be a beautiful, self-assured swan. Those ducks made fun of him, ignored him, brought him to tears.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. His offense to reindeer kind? A nose that lit up, something they saw as a liability–and ended up being Santa’s saving grace.

Victoria’s Secret models. Who’d have thunk they’d have something in common with the Ugly Duckling and Rudolph? Well, it turns out they do. In a recent story on Fox News, these ideals of female perfection talked about how they were teased for being too thin, too plain, too whatever.

It seems when it comes to others, none of us is ever perfect enough. We’ve all experienced that middle school torture, those kids who made seventh grade hell (or freshman year, or whatever). I went through it; my own kids have gone through it. And now, in Really Something, my latest release from Zebra, my heroine, Allie Dean, goes through it, and thinks she is the only person in Tempest, Indiana, to be tortured for being different.

But what Allie doesn’t realize is that we’re all placed in little boxes by people, boxes that are formed by judgments and opinions, good or bad. She’s not the only one seen by the town as one way, when in her heart she is actually someone else.

Don’t worry, regular readers, this book is a romantic comedy, just like my other books, with a really hot hero named Duncan Henry, but this is a novel that delves deeper than any previous story has. I took chances with this one, reached further into my own heart and into the hearts of my characters. I really wanted to explore a character who had changed her exterior, who thought that because she had shed the skin of the person she used to be, that she had also shed the problems that came with that self.

Well, Allie finds out it’s not that easy. All my books have a common theme (and anyone who has read the Bonus Features section of my website has read this), drawn from my all-time favorite poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T. S. Elliot. The theme of the poem is the lies we tell ourselves, and the lies we tell other people–essentially, the masks we were, in private and in public. Really Something explores this theme as well, and takes it on a town-wide level.

So what do the Ugly Duckling, Rudolph, Victoria’s Secret models and all of us have in common? Plenty. We’ve all been there, at one time or another, and can relate to her journey. So come along and read about Allie’s journey home in Really Something–where you’ll find laughter and tears, and realize that returning home is about much more than just going back to the place where you were born.

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