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Everything You Ever Wanted

Best Seller
Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
Paperback $17.00
May 05, 2015 | ISBN 9780142181638

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  • May 05, 2015 | ISBN 9780142181638

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Everything You Ever Wanted is wonderful…broad reaching and introspective.”—New York Times

“While she skewers the celebrity-driven and consumerist Southern California culture she indulges in, Lauren also writes darkly and beautifully…Lauren cracked me — cracked me up and cracked me open… Part of the many joys and sorrows of reading “Everything I Ever Wanted” is this generous and funny and intelligent writer knows that, despite the many hardships, it is in fact she who is the lucky one.”—LA Times

“In her beautiful, heart-wrenching, brilliant, and profoundly human second memoir, we meet Lauren a decade later in a strikingly different milieu. She’s stepping over lines in stages again, but now moving toward things she’s always dreamed of: becoming a good wife, a good mother, a tattooed, pierced, upstanding member of the PTA.”—Boston Globe

“If there is a message in this wry and honest parenting memoir, it’s to toss unrealistic hopes, to stop parenting with such intention, or, as Lauren puts it: “Sometimes, you have to be content.”—Washington Post

“A transformative, unflinching account of the creation of an adoptive family. Jillian and Scott and their son Tariku show us, painful, frustrating and joyful step by step how to attach, heal, listen, trust and then let go. A testament to the fierce and fallible journey of any mother. Reads like a novel, moves you like any great story of survival would, tears of joy and triumph.”—Jamie Lee Curtis
“An irreverent, deeply honest love letter from a fascinating mother to an exceptional, inspiring child.”—Ayelet Waldman, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Mother

“As a foster child, I related so deeply to this story. Jillian Lauren is giving her son the greatest gift any child can have: to be wanted and loved unconditionally. This is a book about belonging. It’s a book about parenting as a spiritual practice — of learning how to love another human being right where they are, right where you are. A really beautiful story of family.”—Tracy McMillan, bestselling author of Why You’re Not Married…Yet

“Ferociously brave, funny, and heartwarming. No other parenting book has ever made me feel so validated about the big, messy, beautiful picture of what it means to care for another human being.”—Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance
“[This] will take your breath away. Jillian Lauren deftly unfurls a story of becoming an adoptive mother and coming terms with her own childhood.” —Annabelle Gurwitch, author of I See You Made an Effort
“Lauren’s writing is brave and honest, and she calls out hypocrisy wherever she sees it.”—Kirkus
“Jillian Lauren proves she is a master storyteller.”—Catherine Burns, Artistic Director, The Moth
“Candid, hilarious, searing, and poetic, Jillian Lauren is Everything You Ever Wanted in a memoirist.”—Sandra Tsing Loh, author of The Madwoman in the Volvo
“[This is] a love story – between Jillian and her rock star husband and also between a couple and their new son. Like all great love stories, the beauty is in the struggle.”—Kristen Howerton, founder of Rage Against the Minivan

Praise for Some Girls:
“SOME GIRLS would have been riveting even if Lauren had merely illuminated the murky world of high-class prostitution.  The fact that she does so with humor, candor, and a reporter’s gimlet eye is an added delight.  But Lauren also reveals how and why a middle-class kid found herself in such a line of work–and how she got out.”—Jennifer Egan, author of Look at Me and The Keep
“A heart-stoppingly thrilling story told by a punk rock Scheherazade, Lauren writes with such lyrical ease – the book is almost musical, an enduring melody of what it is to be a woman.”—Margaret Cho
“SOME GIRLS takes you into a world so dramatic, it seems almost too outrageous to be true. Lauren lifts the veil on harem life and shows us the gritty truth of life in fantasy-land.”—Lily Burana, author of Strip City
“Catfights, mad cash, priceless jewels — welcome to the sultan’s harem. What starts out juicy quickly turns soulful in this elegantly crafted, multi-layered stunner of a memoir. A spell-binding tale of one woman’s exotic search for identity and true love.”– Rachel Resnick, author of Love Junkie
“Lauren tells the story straight, without much moralizing, but the corruption of the aristocrats, the powerlessness of the women and the destitution of the life outside the harem speaks for itself.”—LA Times
“[Lauren] is a deft storyteller and not afraid to provide candid descriptions of her life. A tight, sleek narrative. What’s astounding is that Lauren writes without shame, confronting every hard truth. [Some Girls is] too good to read just once.”—Miami Herald

“Lauren’s story is not one of perpetual gullibility and woman done wrong incidents, but rather an entertaining…and hopeful tale about one young woman’s endless quest to find herself. A beautiful, sweeping epic.”—Bookslut
“Lauren is a gifted writer. Compelling.”—Library Journal

“Lauren is a natural storyteller. She has a gift for metaphor, an eye for the odd detail.”—LA Weekly
“Lauren lifts the veil off her secret harem life, sharing vivid and explosive details.”—The New York Post
Praise for PRETTY:
“Jillian Lauren writes with stunning, furious authenticity about self-destruction and the bitter road toward redemption. “Pretty” will knock the breath right out of you.”—Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
“PRETTY is the real deal, a harrowing journey from darkness to light  to real life. Bebe’s unflinching, street-level search for salvation absolutely floored me, and Jillian Lauren’s writing shimmers throughout with wit and authenticity.”—Antoine Wilson, author of The Interloper
“Pretty is the not-so-pretty, utterly riveting, non-stop frantic and compulsively readable saga of Bebe Baker, a heroine who knows her way around a serious binge. Jillian Lauren renders the taste and feel of wretched excess – be it sex, drugs, food, or Los Angeles – with a savage veracity and style all her own.  The prose, at times, drives with such ferocious urgency that the words seem not so much written as willed  onto the page. Pretty stands out as a triumph of survival testimony. The author, plainly, is lucky to have survived – but the reader is luckier.  Jillian Lauren is the real deal.”—Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
“BeBe Baker knows the ugliness of the world, yet finds plain truths in the multicultural pageantry of eastern Los Angeles. She is the kid you want to protect, the girl you’d definitely be friends with, the obliviously fetching female that all the boys love—an unlikely, unforgettable hero with a forever-searching soul. Pretty’s true beauty, however, is the author’s ability to lovingly capture life’s microscopic details—right down to the cuticles—and offer them back up to us as communion.”—Shawna Kenney, author of I Was a Teenage Dominatrix and Imposters

Author Q&A

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED is a story is about how you became a mother, after emerging from radically non-traditional background. Can you talk about how your past shaped the kind of mother you wanted to be?
I had a pretty wild pre-baby life, including drug addiction and the infamous harem years. On paper, I might not be considered the best candidate for motherhood. I initially put a lot of pressure on myself to be very, very good. And by good I mean not competent so much as virtuous. This was supposed to be my redemption story. What I found instead is that being a good mother wasn’t so much about transcending my past but rather about drawing from my entire range of experiences and learning to embrace the imperfections. I have this life now not in spite of my obstacles but because of them. Adversity has shaped me more than anything else, and shown me that I’m strong. 
After you wrote your first memoir SOME GIRLS, your family essentially disowned you. How did that experience affect your decisions about what to write in EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED?
I wrote both of my memoirs with the same intention- to tell the truest and most emotionally vulnerable story I possibly could. In terms of the writing process, I think we’re responsible for seeing our characters through a compassionate lens. My relationship with my father is loving but fraught and writing about him has been both challenging and healing.  I relate to my father a lot. We’re very much alike. When I write about him in a caring and compassionate way, I get to apply those things to myself as well.   
How does the relationship you had with your parents affect your parenting of Tariku?
I’m also adopted, and as adoptees my son and I both create our identities from many disparate influences. I hope my experiences in this regard will help deepen my understanding of my son’s journey. As parents, we’re all grappling with our histories. Everyone says they won’t make the same mistakes their parents did, which is a noble but reductive sentiment. I got tons or great stuff from my parents and just as much screwed-up-ness. I hope that I’m more patient as a result of my upbringing. But even when I’m not, my goal is to try to bring a level of consciousness to my mistakes and to be able to say I’m sorry.
You wrote a great book about a younger version of yourself. What is your relationship to that Some Girls-girl now?
I had to research my own life when I wrote my first book because it had been eighteen years since the events occurred. Writing this memoir was much more immediate. At first, I didn’t know where to end it, because the story of my relationship with my son is ongoing. Writing my first memoir helped me to broker an accord with the younger, wilder me—the one who made some questionable choices. Crafting that narrative gave me a feeling of control and empowered me. I don’t like that word because it’s overused, but it did. I learned that whatever may or may not happen to us, the story is ours to tell. I was able to write about that girl who was so unwise, and to love her.
Can you talk about the place of faith in your life and your parenting?
I’m deeply engaged with my faith. I have a strong and daily relationship with God through prayer, my writing and, hopefully, my actions in the world. As a family, our spiritual life is something of a patchwork quilt. I’m Jewish. My husband is Christian. My son attends a Christian school. I move very fluidly between the two communities. It’s important to me that Tariku has God in his life, but I’m not attached to any particular set of operating metaphors. I can easily talk about Shabbat or about Jesus with him, and I don’t find it confusing. My son has such a wealth of possibilities in this world open to him. He’s an immigrant. He’s Ethiopian. He’s a California kid. He’s a black kid with white parents. He’s Jewish. He’s Christian. I think it all adds to the richness of his identity and his world.
Your understanding of Tariku and of yourself evolves significantly throughout EYEW. What were the most important benchmarks in your relationship and where are all of you now?
When Tariku was little he had a lot of challenging behaviors. It took us years of searching to truly understand that these behaviors were related to early childhood trauma and sensory processing disorder. These are slippery and hard to understand diagnoses and they can look very different in each individual child, but in our case, he was aggressive and constantly terrified. He didn’t sleep little, ate even less, and had violent tantrums ten times a day. A lot of schools and therapies didn’t work out before we landed on the things that did. Once we found our path, it brought us healing both to us as a family and to Tariku as an individual. We’re all still learning and growing of course, but Tariku is doing just beautifully now. His is a story or triumph. It’s the great privilege of my life to be a part of it.
Do you have any specific advice for parents who may be facing similar struggles?
I would tell anyone facing daunting challenges with their child to keep trying and asking for help. Most importantly– never, never give up. I don’t believe there’s any one cure-all, but I would definitely advise parents to seek help that focuses on relationships, and on the needs behind their child’s behaviors, rather than on diagnoses and medication. It’s easier to be black and white, and that tends to be the stance of most traditional therapeutic professionals. Can’t sit still? Your kid has ADHD, so here’s some Adderall. That kind of thinking may appear to help in the short term, and may even ultimately be the right avenue for some people, but I think too often it’s the first recourse and it shouldn’t be. For the people who relate to the book and are seeking specific recommendations around PTSD, Sensory Processing Disorder or adoption-related issues, there is a detailed resource section in the back.
What do you want people to know most about adopting overseas?
With international adoption, you need an agency that’s transparent, that you can trust, and that’s respectful of the children and their histories. The agency should be willing to walk you through their entire process, from beginning to end. It’s also important to understand that adoption isn’t an act of charity. You’re not saving a disadvantaged child, who should then reward you with eternal gratitude. These children suffer tremendous loss. In the case of international adoption, they’re losing an entire culture. Adoption is a beautiful, amazing thing, but it’s important to be respectful of the trauma the child goes through, and the loss and grief that follow. 
Your friend Jennifer dies of a drug overdose when your son is a baby. How did your relationship with Jennifer become such a big part of this story?
Jennifer was a huge aspect of that time in my life. As parents, we’re not just our relationships with out children. We’re whole beings, and all parts of our lives are interrelated. I don’t know why some of us with addiction issues make it and some of us don’t. I do think it’s important that you find a purpose in life– something bigger than yourself. For me, that purpose was my family. The story of my friend dying and the story about adopting my son are one and the same.
Do you feel that as a culture we adequately recognize the effects of trauma on children?
Some people look at me skeptically when I discuss the impact of early childhood trauma and PTSD. It’s hard to bear witness to the suffering of our fellow humans, especially children, and not know how to address it. But ignoring it doesn’t make the problem go away. Early childhood trauma has a very real effect on neurochemical responses. As a trauma survivor, my kid responds to every perceived danger as a threat to his very existence, and he fights it accordingly. It takes patient, consistent, fearless love to help these kids feel safe in the world, and as a result to begin to rewire their brains.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I’ve never felt equal to the task of parenting. I still don’t really. But then I think- parenting is a gift, not a reward for good behavior. Part of that gift is the opportunity to mother yourself. To hold yourself tenderly, flaws and all, and tell yourself, “We all make mistakes, honey. We’ll get through this.  It’s going to be okay.”
Before we go, can you tell us about your hopes for Tariku, for yourself, for your family?
I can’t think too far into the future or I’ll wind up hyperventilating in a fetal position on my laundry room floor. Right now, I hope we make it through piano practice without too much whining. Also, I hope we’re not out of frozen corn dogs. Wish me luck!

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