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June 24, 2011

Schledia Benefield: The Heart of Plain Jane (a guest post)

Today, I am happy to have Schledia Benefield on my blog. She is the author of Plain Jane, which I reviewed earlier this week. You can read my review here. Please give a warm welcome to Schledia Benefield.

Hi everyone! Thank you, Donna, for inviting me to share a piece of my heart.


When Donna asked if I would be interested in being a guest on her blog I was eager to have the opportunity to share what inspired Plain Jane and its purpose.


On a cold night in November of 2008 while sitting in my parked van waiting on someone, a simple phrase popped in my head. “A lovely dress covered with lace and frills could enhance even the plainest of girls, and I was plain.” I had been pondering my life-long struggle with a low self-esteem. I’m not sure exactly when I began to feel that I wasn’t pretty, but I know that I was fairly young. Despite my early struggle with self-esteem, I always felt pretty when I slipped on a ruffled dress. The more ruffles and frills it had, the better I felt about myself.

cover Plain Jane
As I contemplated what I recognized to be my own defense mechanism, Plain Jane came to life in my heart. I quickly scrambled through my purse, pulled out an envelope, and scribbled down the phrase. As the ink bled through to the paper, I knew I would be telling a tragic story of a girl whose self-esteem had been damaged through words as well as the lack of them and the path her life took as a result.


The preface of Plain Jane begins with: “I crawled onto my bed with a bottle of sleeping pills in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other. This way won’t hurt, and it shouldn’t take too long, I thought to myself. I could no longer endure the pain, the pain of being completely alone in the world.” Within the first sentence the reader is vividly aware that Aralyn’s story is one that leads to the issue of suicide.

I’ve had many responses to the preface, but I have been most frequently asked, “Is this a true story about you?”


In response to that question I quickly answer, “No, Aralyn’s life is fiction; nevertheless, I did reveal many of my own emotions and struggles in order to tell her story." At times I had to tap into the deep recesses of my own heart and hurts to make her come to life. While my life was not the same as hers, I did face many similar situations which led to a low self-esteem, depression, and an attempt to end the pain I felt I could no longer endure.

What I went through was difficult for me to face, but once I reached adulthood I began to volunteer my time working with teenagers and often shared one-on-one or in small groups about my struggles. I wanted to try and help others who felt hopeless. Then in 2005 a family member took his life. I felt the pain of those left behind, and I watched my aunt suffer greatly. I knew what it felt like to be on both sides of that coin. I understood wanting to stop the pain, and I understood the pain suicide caused the family.

After that, I still shared my battle with depression in small settings, but I wanted to do more to help stop as many as I could from taking their lives. I know that it does get better and there is hope. I’ve written stories throughout my life and have always dreamed of writing a novel, so when that phrase popped into my head, I realized that I could tell a story that serves several purposes.


To begin with, I wrote Plain Jane through the eyes of the main character so that maybe those who do not comprehend being in that kind of darkness can learn compassion and gain understanding. I secretly hoped that there would be many readers who have picked on their peers or even bullied them who would finally see the pain they have caused others. I desired parents and adults to be able to see resemblances in their children or friends and get them the help they need, but most importantly, I prayed that someone experiencing the darkness of depression would find hope.

Thank you Schledia for your guest post and sharing about Plain Jane. It is an incredible book and think everyone should read it. You can find out more about Plain Jane and Schledia Benefield at the following links...

Plain Jane Facebook 
On Twitter: @Schledia

Buy Plain Jane at Amazon

The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


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