Oh….so many good books….so little time. That’s why when Rebecca from The Cadence Group contacted me about this author, I had to share it with all of you. So please help me welcome today’s guest, Ms. Andrea Kayne Kaufman!!
ABOUT ANDREA KAYNE KAUFMAN
Andrea Kayne Kaufman has guided and mentored hundreds of students as a professor at the DePaul University College of Education, where she serves as Chair of the Department of Leadership, Language and Curriculum. A professor and attorney who earned a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, a master’s degree in Education from Harvard University and her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Andrea has students who are primarily teachers, seeking masters and doctoral degrees in Educational Leadership to serve as principals and superintendents.
Andrea is an award-winning expert in the area of school law, and has published and spoken widely about special education law, education civil rights, the No Child Left Behind Act, cyber bullying, and other legal and political issues having an impact on students and schools.
In her personal and professional life, Andrea has been involved with issues relating to special needs, in particular Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Her debut novel, Oxford Messed Up, is a literary love story that transports readers on a redemptive and emotional journey, where the academic world of Oxford University serves as a backdrop for true learning, self-discovery, and transcendent love. Andrea’s professional expertise and personal experience have given her the vision to create a novel hailed by experts as one of the first to present the inner workings and treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder accurately, from the inside out.
Andrea is currently working on her next novel, Parent Over Shoulder. In this poignant love story, Andrea brings her education background, sensitivity, insight and articulate writing style to another “hell” found in many school communities – cyber-bullying. You can preview the first sample pages of Parent Over Shoulder here.
Andrea draws inspiration for her writing and life from poetry, Van Morrison’s music and other classic vinyl, her daily walks along Lake Michigan, and her time spent with her husband and two children in their equanimity-filled Chicago home.
You can visit Andrea at her website here.
Oxford is NOT Gloria and Henry’s Kind Of Town
But That’s The Point
My main character, Gloria, is from Chicago. Chicago is a great city (and my home). But the love story for my novel, Oxford Messed Up, unfolds across the pond at Oxford. I’ve had readers ask how I chose that setting. The university, the oldest in the English-speaking world, is steeped in history, culture, and beauty with an impressive and profoundly rich intellectual tradition. I’ve traveled there with my family and as soon as Gloria began developing in my mind, I knew she belonged at Oxford. And I knew Henry belonged there too, even if he didn’t believe me (or Gloria) at first!
Gloria heads to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. Being a Rhodes Scholar means you were singled out for your achievement in a particular area. It is considered by many to be the single most prestigious academic award available and Rhodes scholars go on to become leaders in their field. Rachel Maddow? Rhodes Scholar. Bill Clinton, Nick Kristof, and Naomi Wolf, too. She’s in some pretty good company. When we meet “Our Superstar” as Gloria’s father calls her, she is being reminded over and over again on her way to the airport that this is a natural next step for her. Of course she would be receiving the most prestigious award after graduating from Yale and discovering a missing manuscript. It’s only natural that this superstar shines on many continents, even if she can’t use the bathroom on her way there.
But for Gloria, Oxford is many things besides an academic notch on her belt. It is way, way, way outside of her safe, sealed world. Gloria built a controlled and disciplined life, thanks to Oliver, allowing her to navigate relationships and obligations while still being ruled by her OCD. Oxford is, well, going to mess that up. The hallowed halls of learning are also full of risks and dangers for someone like Gloria. Even getting on the plane to go is a huge gamble once her impressive supply of hand sanitizer is confiscated by TSA. She’s attempted to work around it by creating schedules and living a disciplined life in her private quarters, not knowing that private doesn’t mean there won’t be a dashing English boy sitting on her toilet when she arrives.
The world of academics grounds Gloria. The Bodleian Library, for example, is just the kind of place Gloria likes. The Bod, as Oxford students call it, is the second largest library in all of England and one of the oldest in Europe. I liked the idea of Gloria immersing herself in all the old books and documents wearing white gloves to protect the pages and to protect her hands from prying eyes. It makes sense that she would gravitate to places like a silent, hermetically sealed archival library to lose herself in her feminist poetry. She can trust that, there, even the air is clean enough for her tastes.
Gloria thinks she’ll be able to disappear into her work at Oxford. The location is almost irrelevant to her as is blurs by during her car ride to campus. She’s not thinking about all that Oxford is besides a place to study and to achieve. She comes to find that it is a place that offers her escape as much as it offers risks. The music stores, restaurants and pubs, even her favorite bench outside her room are places she can begin to define herself as more than the superstar and as more than her OCD. And for Henry, dear Henry, Oxford’s traditions of excellence are a constant reminder of just how much he’s messed up. Every turned corner presents the possibility of bumping into his legendary father, a professor at Oxford and a pain in his butt. He is convinced that, with his father’s unrelenting help, he doesn’t belong there. Gloria thinks she can escape to Oxford to prove herself worthy. Henry feels like he’ll never escape Oxford and never prove himself worthy of anything.
And so this centuries-old university is a place that two young people discover themselves anew. Henry thrives as a guide to Gloria, taking her to places connected to their musical hero, Van Morrison. He’s able to tap into Gloria’s human side just as she’s able to tap into his scholarly side. Gloria tests out just having some fun now and then while also guiding Henry towards his first tastes of academic success. Oxford is their distant land, their Achilles’ heel, and ultimately their love nest.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Who knew that life in one Oxford dorm, with a shared bathroom, would become the catalyst for self-examination and exploration not only of one’s soul, but ultimately of one’s soulmate? The lyrics of Van Morrison‘s music, the poetry of Sylvia Plath, and an old clawfoot bathtub provoke this unexpected journey where the exotic locale of Oxford University is an engaging backdrop for true learning as Gloria Zimmerman and Henry Young discover the loveliness in their own germs and each other.
Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman is an academic superstar, who has come to Oxford to study feminist poetry. Yet the rigors of the academy pale in comparison with the untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that she suffers, fueled by her overachieving Chicago parents, and manifested in a deathly aversion to germs and human contact. Her OCD has left her hands rubbed as raw as a burn victim’s and her psyche shattered and in thrall to a possessive and codependent externalized inner voice.
Her dormitory room neighbor (who is also, to her mortification, her loomate) is Henry Young, the appealing but underachieving musician son of an overbearing and disapproving Oxford don. Still mourning the death of his supportive mother while enduring the mockery of his disapproving and merciless father, Henry is haunted by the unexpectedly serious ramifications of a reckless and tragic youth.
Their relationship evolves from a shared obsession with Van Morrison’s music into a desire on the part of each to fill in the gaps in the life of the other. Henry seeks to enable Gloria to conquer her OCD and enter the world of intimacy, while Gloria will help Henry achieve academic success and earn the respect of his implacable father. Yet the constraints of a debilitating illness and the looming revelation of a catastrophic secret conspire to throw their worlds into upheaval, and threaten the possibilities of their unlikely, yet redemptive love.
THANKS TO REBECCA FROM THE CADENCE GROUP,
I HAVE ONE COPY OF THIS BOOK TO GIVE AWAY.
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