4 Pieces of Wisdom High School Seniors Need from The History of Jane Doe

4 Pieces of Wisdom High School Seniors Need from The History of Jane Doe

If you’re a high school senior, you already know it's an important time, and that it will be history before you know it. It just so happens that's a subject alumnus Michael Belanger MFA ’18 knows a thing or two about; history’s a major passion for Ray, the main character in his new teen book, The History of Jane Doe. Michael writes in his novel (which Publishers Weekly calls an "exceptional debut") that history's power is in remembering it, because it can give life meaning. When we told him we wanted to write something for the high school senior class, he offered some pearls of wisdom from HOJD that will help you create fantastic memories, and make this end-of-an-era year one of the most meaningul times of your life.

1.  Explore your town's history.


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It’s easy to think of the everyday as ordinary, especially if you’ve lived in a place for a long time. But it’s important to remember that every person and town has an interesting history. In HOJD, Ray tells his therapist Rich, “History isn’t a straight line from the beginning to the end…You’ve got to study everything in between. That’s where the real answers are.” Go to a local historical site, a library archive, or just have a conversation with someone in your family. While you hopefully won’t encounter the vicious green cows rumored to exist in Ray’s town of Burgerville, chances are you will be surprised by what you uncover.

2.  Don't be afraid to lean on people for help.


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Whether it’s a drive in his best friend’s minivan, a therapy exercise with Rich, or a conversation with his mom, Ray leans on those closest to him for guidance. With so many potential stressors in your last year of high school—college deadlines, senior yearbook photos, the ever-present struggle to pass gym—make sure you reach out to someone if you find yourself getting overwhelmed.

3.  Celebrate your quirks.


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We are what we do. In HOJD, Ray has history, Simon has milk and vampire fiction, and Jane has folk music and conspiracy theories, and they’re not afraid to wear those interests on their sleeves (sometimes literally). You shouldn’t be either. As high school comes to a close, think about all of the things you’ve discovered about yourself, everything that makes you you, and take it out into the world. Obsessed with hedgehogs? Let people know. Specialize in a form of metallurgy from the sixteenth century? Start a club. Passionate about a type of singing that requires screaming at the top of your lungs? Okay, maybe join the Glee Club for that one.

4.  Enjoy each and every moment.


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As high school seniors, it’s easy to lose yourselves in thoughts about the future, or nostalgia about the past. But don’t forget the here and now. You’ll never get to have those sloppy joes from the cafeteria again. Your biology teacher will no longer douse you with saliva during a passionate lecture about cellular regeneration. As Ray says of history, “By its very definition, it’s over as soon as it happens.” Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just live in the moment. Unless of course your senior prank has something to do with bugs. In that case, run.

Last Modified: 09-11-2018 01:17 PM

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