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Jennifer Fager, a La Grande native, hopes her published work of fiction will inspire her children and others to keep learning. Her book, available for Kindle on Amazon, came out in August. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
La Grande woman wants students to know learning never ends
Few teachers have published novels. But one La Grande substitute teacher recently completed her first book — and hopes it shows her children and students that learning is never finished.
La Grande native Jennifer Fager has a passion for writing. She has no idea, however, where the idea came from for her first work of fiction, a book titled “Boones Ferry Road.”
“It was a ride home from Boise one day, and I started processing the story,” Fager, a mother of three, said.
“Boones Ferry Road” is a story of a clean-cut young man who meets the love of his life while at graduate school in Portland. The young woman he falls for, though, has an abusive past and works as a dancer at a less-than-family-friendly club. The novel follows the turmoil of the protagonist, who is from La Grande, as he is challenged with gritty issues of his newfound love.
“It’s not a kid’s book,” Fager easily admits. Her children, 11, 9 and almost 7, won’t be reading it for quite awhile.
“It’s got elements you may not see in more clean-cut novels,” she said.
That’s not because it’s trashy but rather because Fager wanted to portray some of the adult themes of the book as authentically as possible. She consulted a clinical psychologist, a surgeon, an attorney and conducted other research, too.
“There was a lot of research. I really wanted to make sure I got it right,” Fager said. “It’s ultimately a story of redemption.”
The research wasn’t difficult for Fager, who comes from a research background. She has previously worked in the field of education, writing many academic papers on the subject.
Her first crack at fiction is more than a love story. The 41-year-old author says she wanted to drive home some points about small town life.
“I wanted to show you can be from a small town and still be a cultured and forward-thinking person,” Fager said.
The novel also includes some “slices of life” in La Grande, including a Nells-N-Out reference.
Fager started writing the novel while she was home schooling her children.
“It was a lot of late nights, but I loved it,” she said.
And though her children are not ready to read “Boones Ferry Road” just yet, she hopes they can see what it means.
“I think it’s neat for them to see Mom and Dad pursuing something,” she said. “We’re dreamers. In our house, we love to dream and think big.”
Now substituting at Central Elementary School, Fager hopes the excitement from her students about her book will translate into dreams for them, too.
“I tell them, ‘That’s my dream. Writing is art. You get to paint pictures in people’s minds,’” she said.
And the busy mom isn’t finished dreaming yet. She has already started working on another book.
“Hopefully next time around will be a little more smooth,” she says.
In the meantime, Fager hopes to get hard copies of “Boones Ferry Road” printed and in La Grande in time for the holiday season. Since August it has only been available on Kindle.
“I want to hold it in my hands,” Fager said.