Home » Up Close & Personal » Up Close and Personal with Jenny Ruden, author of Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet

Up Close and Personal with Jenny Ruden, author of Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet

Camp Utopia and The Forgiveness DietTitle: Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet
Genre: Young Adult
Author: Jenny Ruden
Publisher: Koehler Books
Language: English
Pages: 300
Format: Paperback

Sixteen-year-old Baltimore teen Bethany Stern knows the only way out of spending her summer at Camp Utopia, a fat camp in Northern California, is weight-loss. Desperate, she tries The Forgiveness Diet, the latest fad whose infomercial promises that all she has to do is forgive her deadbeat dad, her scandalous sister, and the teenage magician next door and (unrequited) love of her life. But when the diet fails and her camp nemesis delivers the ultimate blow, Bee bids sayonara to Camp-not-Utopian-at-all to begin what she believes will be her “real” summer adventure, only to learn that running away isn’t as easy—or as healing—as it seems.

Her wry and honest voice bring humor and poignancy for anyone, fat or thin, tired of hearing “you’d be so pretty if…[insert unwelcome judgment about your appearance from loved one or perfect stranger].”



The thing about me is that I …..when I complain about something (a lot) it means I love it (a lot)

When I first get up in the morning, I …..see my kids because they get me up every single day telling me that it’s time to get up and get dressed now and I should really become a morning person.

The most important thing in my life is ….. my family and our health

I love to travel to ….. some place without a Target. I’d like to hear the words, “We will be sleeping in trees because of the jaguars, but watch out for snakes on the branches.” Or, “we don’t have indoor plumbing, but we should in the next 50 to 100 years.”

In my spare time, I ….. day dream.

One thing I learned about life was ….. It’s your own. You’re not required to take anyone’s advice.

The sole mission I am on this earth is to …..destroy the Klingon army. Oh wait, that’s another mission. I am here to give voice to the unsaid.

One little known fact about me that might surprise you is …..I’m a bit of a smartass (I know, I know. You’re shocked.)

My favorite time of day is …..definitely not the morning.

I love to write about … teenagers. Always have. Always will.

The most difficult aspect about writing is ….. loneliness.

My most favorite aspect about writing is ….. everything else. I love writing!

When I became a published author for the first time, I ….. won a contest and went around town sweeping up the weeklies from the local news stands like they’d be worth something one day. LOLOLOLOLOL!

The inspiration behind my book comes from …..spending the majority of my life thinking that everything would change if only I lost weight.

The most asked question about my book is ….. have you ever been to fat camp? (answer: no)



Jenny Ruden has published short stories and essays in Nerve, Salon, Eclectica Magazine, Literary Mama and High Desert Journal. She won an Orlando award for creative nonfiction, was named a finalist in Glimmertrain’s short fiction contest, and has been nominated for the Pushcart prize two years in a row. She has worked with teenagers for over ten years as a teacher of Reading, Writing and GED, and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon. She lives with her husband, two daughters, two basset hounds and cat in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She does a flawless impersonation of a normal person. Don’t be fooled. She’s a writer.





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