I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love finding out more about the authors behind the books I love or am interested in. So today I’m excited to share an interview with Jesmeen Kaur Deo. This book released in June and it’s one I’m really excited about reading. So keep on reading to find out more about this book and the author.
A big thanks to the author for taking time to answer my questions!
A charming rom-com about high school debater TJ Powar who—after becoming the subject of an ugly meme—makes a resolution to stop shaving, plucking, and waxing, and prove that she can be her hairy self and still be beautiful…but soon finds this may be her most difficult debate yet. Perfect for fans of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever.
When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand.
She ditches her razors, cancels her waxing appointments, and sets a debate resolution for herself: “This House Believes That TJ Powar can be her hairy self, and still be beautiful.” Only, as she sets about proving her point, she starts to seriously doubt anyone could care about her just the way she is—even when the infuriating boy from a rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise.
As her carefully crafted sense of self begins to crumble, TJ realizes that winning this debate may cost her far more than the space between her eyebrows. And that the hardest judge to convince of her arguments might just be herself.
What inspired you to start writing TJ Powar Has Something to Prove?
Mostly the fact that the media I had growing up never acknowledged female body hair. It was either treated as a joke or didn’t even seem to exist. And in real life, no one talked about it either. No one seemed to have the kind of body hair that I had as a young brown woman. It made me grow up thinking something was wrong with me. Of course, I later learned that lots of people had that kind of body hair. They just removed it. It feels natural that eventually I would want to write a book exploring this—this immense societal pressure for people to conform to a very narrow and problematic standard of beauty. As well, I strongly wanted to write a love story, because women with body hair often have difficulties with intimacy and I wanted to make it clear that accepting and respecting someone’s body as they have offered it to you is truly the bare minimum.
What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
There have been so many special moments! I think most of the highlights have been seeing my words translated into book format—I remember tearing up when I saw my pass pages (the first time I saw the story formatted by the internal designer, formatted into a real book). Holding my ARCs and hardcovers for the first time was also an incredible moment, as was the first time I walked into a bookstore and saw my book on the shelf.
If you were a character in TJ Powar Has Something to Prove, what kind of character would you be?
I would probably be one of the debate kids at TJ’s school! I think I’d hang out with Ameera (one of the other debaters in the club), and I probably wouldn’t interact much with TJ. She tends to be a bit of a drama queen, so I’d probably watch her shenanigans from a safe distance.
Describe TJ Powar Has Something to Prove in five words or less.
It’s about to get hairy.
What is your favorite quote from this book?
The least spoiler-y one: “What’s really a disease, and what’s just diversity? Who gets to decide?”
What do you hope readers take away from TJ Powar Has Something to Prove?
There’s a conversation TJ has with her esthetician near the end of the book—I won’t spoil it, but it’s about TJ’s perception of her body hair and of beauty standards in general; it’s something I wish someone had told me when I was younger. I hope people can walk away from the book with their head held a little higher after reading that.
What’s next for you? Anything you can tell us readers about?
I am working on several things, but I’ve got nothing to share at the moment!
I love books when characters take a stand about something and in the end also learn a lot about themselves. I’ll definitely have to make time for TJ Powar Has Something to Prove.