Mercyhurst professor writes book

Mercyhurst professor writes book

Ivory Easton, Contributing writer

Jennifer Craven, an instructor of Fashion Merchandising at Mercyhurst, has recently written a new book. Craven is also a blogger and mother, with three young children at home.

Her new book, entitled “A Long Way From Blair Street,” is a fictionalized biography of the life of Craven’s great-aunt Jeanne Gildea’s life. Although Craven’s account is close to factual, she “took liberties to fictionalize it, in certain areas” saying “I imagined some of the aspects.”

Jeanne Gildea has a story that is worth telling primarily because she started a movement through her own female empowerment.

Craven got the idea for the book from an available essay prompt online about Christmas traditions. She remembers her great-aunt knitting custom, unique Christ-mas stockings for her immediate and extended family. According to Craven, this idea was the basis of her inspiration for a story.

“However, the book is bigger than a Christmas story, because I think her life was so interesting,” Craven said. Hence, the story turned into a full book.

Craven wanted to write the book about her great-aunt be-cause of her amazing, inspirational life so that people outside of Craven’s immediate family could find inspiration from it.

Her great-aunt was born in the late 1920s in south Pennsylvania on Blair Street and was diagnosed with polio as a child.

Gildea was in and out of hospitals, had radical surgeries, and lived the rest of her life with a stiff leg. Craven explained that despite this, Gildea’s nature was not one of self-pity. “She was never ‘woe is me’, she never complained and she lived each day in reality. She lived with the mindset of ‘this is my life and I have to make the best out of it,’” Craven said. As a result, “A Long Way from Blair Street” follows the wondrous life of a disabled woman who undergoes intense surgery, beats the odds, moves to Washington D.C., and triumphs despite her limitations.

The biographical novel explores themes of family dynamics and expectations, self-fulfillment, and the will to overcome. Through the lens of twentieth-century America, “A Long Way from Blair Street” is a coming-of-age story with the central lesson of acceptance and the power of never giving up. The book states, “she was a girl whose legs couldn’t work, but her fingers were magical.”Craven also expressed that the book has a message. “There is an interesting lesson for anyone who wants to read something lighter and it is a book that puts things into perspective.” This book captures her family dynamic and how proud Craven is of her great-aunt’s amazing life.

The book is available at Press Bookstore and is sold on Amazon. Craven is also working on another novel that is yet to be named – a historical fiction that will be available next year. If anyone is interested in her novel, posts of what she is working on and a cover reveal of her next available book can be found if you follow her on Instagram @jennifercravenauthor.