Jubilee reviewed in the Washington Post!

“Like her idol, Sandra Cisneros, Bianca wants to be a voice for her people, the Mexican American working-class residents of Southern California … Givhan manages to tell a story about Mexicali culture that, by focusing on one young woman’s hope, avoids cultural generalizations and tells, instead, a story of family growth and personal triumph.”

–The Washington Post


Read the review here.

I’m thrilled and buoyed to celebrate with you the birthday of a book that’s been my heartwork for the past twenty years. JUBILEE is inspired by my girlhood as a Chicana growing up on the Mexicali border of Southern California, experiencing the cultural stigmas in the Mexican-American community toward teenage sexuality, childbearing, abortions, miscarriages, and violent relationships with machismo boys and men. As a survivor of assault and an abusive relationship, I needed to write a book that grappled with the complexities of trauma and how cultural, religious, and familial norms affect healing.

The idea for JUBILEE was born while I was researching maternal trauma and encountered Reborn dolls used as therapy for women who’d experienced childloss. These dolls are often custom-made, and the artists who create them advertise that they can recreate a replica of a child from a photograph. Women who collect or adopt Reborns sometimes carry them around as if they are “real” babies, strolling them around the park, strapping them in car seats, and so on. Partners often participate, for the sake of their beloveds. As a mother who’s experienced infertility and pregnancy loss, the whole Reborn concept was incredibly compelling to me, and I wondered, what would happen psychologically if a woman really couldn’t tell the difference between a Reborn and her “real” child. In other words, what if this Reborn was real…

Over a decade, during which time I adopted my son, birthed my daughter, earned an MFA in Poetry, drafted and sold another novel, and never, ever, ever gave up on JUBILEE. I was exceedingly proud of the first draft of this novel, the first sustained piece of fiction I ever wrote, because I completed an entire draft in less than a month for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). And although it took nine years nearly to the month to see publication and has  been a long, arduous road, I’ve kept the faith, and I’m so dang proud of my mama writer self. Finally now, twenty years after living it, almost ten years after setting it to paper—Jubilee is ready to go home.

I hope that Bianca’s story and her experiences with Jubilee will inspire you as they have me—and give you the courage to create what’s real and truly beautiful in this world.  Whether in this life or the one we create in our hearts and minds—in our imaginations. I want readers to walk away from the story with a sense of who and what Jubilee is in their own lives and why she is such an important and potent symbol for the power of hope—what keeps us going, what keeps us loving, what keeps us alive.

Jubilee coming this October 6th! Pre-order available now…

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”I never thought I’d see the Great Mexicali Novel. Jennifer Givhan teaches us new things about borders, including the shadowy borders of the mind. Intense.” ~Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels

”A deeply affecting and ultimately uplifting novel. Givhan’s beautiful prose vividly renders a Southern California not often seen in literature.” ~Toni Margarita Plummer, author of The Bolero of Andi Rowe

Jubilee by Jennifer Givhan

When Bianca appears late one night at her brother’s house in Santa Ana, she is barely conscious, though not alone. Jubilee, wrapped in a fuzzy pink romper, is buckled into a car seat. Jubilee, who Bianca feeds and clothes and bathes and loves. Jubilee, who Bianca could not leave behind. Jubilee, a doll in her arms.

Told in alternating points of view, Jubilee reveals both the haunting power of our lived experiences and the surreal possibility of the present to heal the past.

The first thread, “Before Jubilee,” follows Bianca in her girlhood home on the Mexicali border as she struggles with her high school sweetheart, Gabe, and a secret they’ve shared since she was fifteen.

The second thread, “With Jubilee,” is told from the point of view of her new love, Joshua, who along with Bianca’s family helps her cope with a mysterious trauma by accepting Jubilee as part of the family. As Joshua’s love for Bianca grows, he fears that Jubilee has the power to tear his tiny family apart.

Alternating chapters give readers a unique perspective on Bianca’s present and on her relationship with Jubilee as her past life with Gabe comes to a catastrophic end.

Jubilee is at once a darkly suspenseful psychological drama and a luminous reflection on how beauty emerges from even the most traumatic of experiences.

Order now from Blackstone Publishing! Available at Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Amazon, Hudson Booksellers, and more!

Jennifer Givhan

Jennifer Givhan

Jennifer Givhan, a National Endowment for the Arts and PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellow, is a Mexican American writer and activist from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of four full-length poetry collections: Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize), Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series edited by Billy Collins), Girl with Death Mask (2017 Blue Light Books Prize chosen by Ross Gay), and Rosa’s Einstein (Camino Del Sol Poetry Series, 2019). Her honors include the Frost Place Latinx Scholarship, a National Latinx Writers’ Conference Scholarship, the Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, Phoebe Journal’s Greg Grummer Poetry Prize chosen by Monica Youn, the Pinch Poetry Prize chosen by Ada Limón, and ten Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Ploughshares, Poetry, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Witness, Southern Humanities Review, Missouri Review, and the Kenyon Review. Givhan holds a master’s degree in English from California State University Fullerton and an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and she can be found discussing feminist motherhood at JenniferGivhan.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter @JennGivhan.

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18 Email Newsletter Examples We Love Getting in Our InboxesWelcome to Jennifer’s Newsletter by me, Jennifer Givhan. Poet, she/her, novelist, mama, Chicana feminist, bruja y curandera, author of the novels TRINITY SIGHT & JUBILEE (Blackstone Publishing).

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Quinceañera with Baby Fever up at Salon!

 

An excerpt from my memoir is up at Salon!

I wanted the sparkling dress, a princess crown, the man of honor. And I wanted my boyfriend to want a baby with me…

 

HAiliFier Women's Generous Gold Lace Appplique Quinceanera Dress ...

 

 

TRINITY SIGHT now available for pre-order!

My debut novel TRINITY SIGHT is available for pre-order from Blackstone Publishing! I’m over-the-moon!!! Here is a link for IndieBound, which helps support small bookstores. It is also available on Amazon.

Bird Woman and Bloom

sacagaweaSacagawea emerges from the hedgehog cacti
in the lot behind our crumpling house
heavy with cradleboard & mistaken

for a token of peace…

from “Bird Woman

 

 

The boys next door are ignoring my son. burning tree
It’s playground politics, the fragile and shifting
power dynamics of these early friendships…

from “Bloom

Read both poems at The Boiler.

Miscarriage

Jennifer Givhan

MiscarriagIMG_0098e

In a field where a hot air balloon waits tethered,
children balancing umbrellas and wearing party hats

plant birthday bouquets; where they grow
the swollen bulbs push open the soil

smelling of clay and fingerpaint. Even the sky
celebrates in reverse, hanging like pigtails from a jungle gym.

Not many daffodils or crickets are lucky enough to become fossils,
but here every joule of heat remains inside the balloon.

One might be tempted to drift away now
rather than later.

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Five poems published in The Acentos Review

I am honored to be published in this fine online journal! Check out my poems here: Acentos Review
Thanks for reading!
-Jenn