National Writing Project

Courage and Voice: The Story of a Young Author and Her Teacher

By: Jane H. Talbert
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 4
Date: Fall 1998

Summary: This narrative follows the writer though the experience of coaching a very sick fifteen-year-old, Jessica, as Jessica writes and publishes a book detailing the peaks and valleys of her illness.



Each of us has a story to tell, and it's my challenge as a writing teacher to help my students develop the courage and voice to tell their stories. Two years ago I was asked to work with a young miracle named Jessica Pace, to help her turn her inspirational story of struggle and survival into a published book. Throughout her short life, Jessica had continuously demonstrated that she had more than enough courage for this enormous undertaking, and through our months together, she developed a compelling voice that would be heard nationwide.

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