Anyone who knows St. Michael Elementary media specialist Jenny Hill knows she’s a voracious reader.
Stare down a book in her library and chances are she can quip, “I’ve read that!” and give it a good recommendation.
Now, however, the ‘librarian’ has become the author, as Hill has penned her memoir, “Walking With Tension.”
The book takes a look at Hill’s journey with cerebral palsy, a permanent, life-changing condition she was diagnosed with at the age of 2.
“I think it took some time to see where the muscle development was going, but the doctors had an idea and were working with my family from the start,” Hill said. “As a little girl growing up, it gets to be a hard road. You don’t really understand why it’s happening to you.”
“Walking With Tension” follows that lead, examining Jenny’s inner conflicts, and particularly her faith. When dealing with a disease that consistently forces her brain to tell her muscles to contract, the inner conflict is both mental and physical.
“I wondered why God would let this happen to me,” she said. “I would pray for some sort of healing.” And when none came, she would question why she wasn’t worthy of salvation.
As Jenny remembered these feelings and relayed them in conversations with her current faith community, the response back to her would often be, “Hey, you should really write a book about that.”
“I think the turning point was when I told my current pastor [at Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove], and he had the same response,” she said with a smile. “I was like, ‘You know, you’re not the first person who has said that.'”
Writing the book was “cathartic” in procedure, Hill said. It allowed her to put things that were very personal on to the page, but also to realize that what she was going through is something so many teens go through as their bodies become their own in adulthood.
“I came to the understanding that this was me,” she said. “Even if there are no miracles in my life, there is healing in my life, and I wanted to tell people about that.”
“People have been so supportive,” she said. “I’ve been told this could be helpful to people with CP, and to anyone beyond that circle, really.”
“There is an adage that goes, ‘We all have a story, and we long for someone to listen to it.’ And that is true,” said author Dr. Steven E. Koop, who reviewed Hill’s memoir. “I would add, ‘…and some stories really must be heard.’ This is such a story.”
Hill will launch her book with an invite-only signing later this month at the Maple Grove Community Center. “Walking With Tension” is currently available to order on Amazon.com. To see Jenny talk 1:1 about her book, you can view her YouTube promotion of “Walking With Tension.”
Hill hopes she can write more, on paper, in the future. Where that goes, she’s not sure, but she’s been an “aspiring author” since the age of 8, when she was inspired by her second grade teacher.
“I think, when it comes to memoirs, this is probably end of the line,” she said. “But maybe writing for kids or something. Yes. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I’ll continue to write.”
You can read some of that writing online, as she blogs frequently at WalkingWithTension.com