Joy School

What’s it about?

This is the second of three books about Kate Nash, the army brat first introduced in Durable Goods. This is a story of first love. Kate is thirteen, and the object of her desire is a 23-year old gas station attendant named Jimmy. He is married and has a child, but as Katie says (after noting that he does not wear a wedding ring) it’s every woman for herself.

What was the inspiration?

Sometimes the smallest event can inspire a novel. When I was about nine years old, I once went ice skating on a pond behind a gas station. I fell through the ice but the pond was only a few inches deep at that point. The proprietor of the station (who was NOT a staggeringly handsome man like Jimmy) let me come in and warm my feet up. That’s it.


Joy School book cover
Random House – 1997

“In just those few minutes, I had developed a full crush. But different this time. Before, when I knew that I was starting to love a boy, it was like a yip in my heart. Now that it’s a man, it feels like a fan unfolding. Or like when they show flowers on those science shows, you can see them open. Like that. Or a shy woman coming into the room with just that one person, the door closed behind them, and she takes off her scarf and there is her hair, golden as can be, and she never even knew. The heart of myself has always been something just wanting so bad. I have had an empty center, black as a basement, but also knowing about light, and waiting.”

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