“I was born on February 27th, 1997 in Anderson, IN. My dad was born in Illinois but grew up for the most part in the Yukon Territory, Canada. My mom was born and raised in Indiana. Both of my parents were born to Christian pastors and grew up in Christian homes. My dad always dreamed of moving to the NYC area and starting a church. He met my mom and they married in ’93 and named me Brooklynn because of the dream they shared of heading to the east coast.
We lived in Indiana and Colorado and for a few years in a trailer traveling America as my dad preached at different churches. When I was 6 we moved to Louisiana and lived there for a year while my dad continued to travel and preach. They finally saved up the money to be able to make it to New York.
In August of 2003, we packed up our lives and drove to New York when I was seven. My dad likes to joke that our money only got us to Jersey City and not quite across the river to NYC, but it was meant to be. At first, I despised Jersey City. We had no family here and no friends. I felt utterly alone. I wanted to go back to the country where we could play outside with the animals and where I spent every day with my best friend. Now, I had to go to a school where I was made fun of for being a white southern girl in the inner city.
My brother was born in December and the loneliness got a little better, but I remember feeling invisible. I would hang out more with my stuffed animals and dog than people. It got better through the years as I made friends, but it felt like none of them would ever stick around. They would either move, change schools, or just drift away.
Our church began to grow and I began to hear stories of life and struggle from both adults and kids my age. Life in the city is unlike life in most places. I grew up in a sheltered family but quickly came to see how others weren’t as fortunate. I grew up feeling broken for others who were broken. Looking back now, I can see how “Cirque” was being written before I even had the idea.
I remember crying to my dad when I was thirteen about how sad I was that my friends were struggling in life. It hurt my heart that they felt broken, lost, lonely, suicidal. That they were being used, abused, and told they were nothing. And then it hurt, even more, knowing that there were millions of teenagers, kids—people—who were facing the same stuff.
In my Junior year, after reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the millionth time and discussing it in class, I decided I wanted to do what Harper Lee did and write about the things my generation was facing. I sat in my English class and thought, what is the biggest thing my generation is dealing with right now?
That was what entered my mind immediately. And so, Drew was the first character written. Then, I thought about how many different stories and types of people there are and how their story matters too. So, I did my best to write a variety of lives and pain, all based on people I know and have interacted with.
From 2013 to 2019, "Cirque" was being written. As I got older, it got older with me. As life became more real and intense, so did my book. The more people I met, the more voices I heard, the more diverse Cirque became.
I believe this is just the beginning of "Cirque" because there is still so much to say about pain and purpose and struggle and victory."