Challenging Stereotypes: Author Eliza Henry Jones Shares the Inspiration for How to Grow a Family Tree

Challenging Stereotypes: Author Eliza Henry Jones Shares the Inspiration for How to Grow a Family Tree

The inspiration for this novel was really around forced adoption – everything else grew from that. Like Stella’s birth mother, my grandmother was forced to give a baby – my father – up for adoption following an assault when she was a teenager. I met her for the first time when I was six. My father also put a baby up for adoption when he was a teenager – I have a half-sister out there who I’ve never met. It’s something that’s impacted me and how I view the world in lots of small ways. Many of the most important people in my life aren’t blood relatives while I have close blood relatives out there who are total strangers.

I also wanted to challenge a lot of the stereotypes around the sorts of people who’d live in a place like Fairyland Caravan Park, where most of How to Grow a Family Tree is set. This stemmed largely from my work with vulnerable families in the drug and alcohol sector. It’s so easy to make assumptions about people in challenging circumstances and to think you know their story. I wanted to examine how complex people are and how, overwhelmingly, people are just trying to do their best.

I hope that this book encourages teens to really think about their community and their families and the people they share their lives with. It’s a cliché, but it really is so easy to take the people we love for granted – particularly if we’ve known them since childhood. I also wanted the novel to highlight how sometimes people can’t overcome their traumatic pasts or their mental health issues, no matter how much they love you and how much they want to.  And that this doesn’t make them bad people or weak people or anything like that. It just means that they’re human. The people in this novel are flawed – they love each other, they make mistakes, they say the wrong thing, they try to do better.

I’m also an ambassador for The Satellite Foundation. The foundation does fantastic work with children and young people who have parents experiencing mental health issues. As the child of someone with mental illness, I would have loved to have had access to The Satellite Foundation growing up! I think the foundation would have been a wonderful support for Stella and her sister, Taylor. I’m looking forward to having some of the young people visit the farm, pick food from the kitchen garden and spend time with our animals.

How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry Jones is out now

Reviews

Family, Friendship and Home: Read an Extract from How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry Jones

Review | Extract

1 April 2020

Family, Friendship and Home: Read an Extract from How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry Jones

A Deeply Moving Story About Belonging and Identity: Review of How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry Jones

Review

31 March 2020

A Deeply Moving Story About Belonging and Identity: Review of How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry Jones

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            Synopsis

            From the author of P is for Pearl comes a heart-warming book about family, friendship and what home can mean.Stella may only be seventeen, but having read every self-help book she can find means she knows a thing or two about helping people. She sure wasn't expecting to be the one in need of help, though.Thanks to her father's gambling addiction, Stella and her family now find themselves living at Fairyland Caravan Park. And hiding this truth from her friends is hard enough without dealing with another secret. Stella's birth mother has sent her a letter.As Stella deals with the chaos of her family, she must also confront the secrets and past of her 'other' family. But Stella is stronger than she realises.From the author of P is for Pearl comes a heart-warming book about family, friendship and what home can mean.E
            Eliza Henry Jones
            About the author

            Eliza Henry Jones

            Eliza was born in Melbourne in 1990. She was a young Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre in 2012 and was a recipient of a Varuna residential fellowship for 2015. She has qualifications in English, psychology and grief, loss and trauma counselling. She is currently completing honours in creative writing - exploring bushfire trauma - and works in community services. She lives in the Dandenong Ranges with her husband and too many animals. In The Quiet was her debut novel.

            Books by Eliza Henry Jones

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