Powers, J.L. (Jessica Powers)

views updated

Powers, J.L. (Jessica Powers)


Born in Princeton, NJ; daughter of a geologist and a journalist. Education: New Mexico State University, B.A.; University of Texas at El Paso, M.F.A., 1999; University at Albany, State University of New York, M.A. (African history), 2001; Stanford University, M.A. (African history), 2008. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, reading, Africa, photography, literature, Latino culture in the United States.


Home—CA. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer and educator. Performer in street theater in India, Uzbekistan, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Mexico; Cinco Puntos Press, El Paso, TX, former senior editor; has taught African history and composition, research, and argument at universities and community colleges, including University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso Community College, and Dona Ana Branch Community College.


The Confessional (young-adult novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.


A Bark in the Park: The Forty-five Best Places to Hike with Your Dog in the El Paso/Las Cruces Region, Cruden Bay Books (Montchanin, DE), 2003.

(Editor) Labor Pains and Birth Stories: Essays on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Becoming a Parent, Catalyst Book Press (CA), 2009.

Also contributor to Frontera Dreams: A Hector Belascoaran Shayne Mystery, by Paco Ignacio Taibo II, translated by Bill Vernon. Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Colorlines, Revista Maryknoll, Revista Tradicion, and Suite101.com. Contributor of book reviews and articles to NewPages.com.


J.L. Powers, a writer, editor, and educator who grew up along the border between the United States and Mexico, is the author of the young-adult novel The Confessional, a work that "powerfully combines timely storylines regarding illegal immigration, school violence and racial tension," observed a critic in Publishers Weekly. "The Confessional is a kind of love letter for the border region and for young people," Powers remarked on her home page. "It represents my hope that the young people of the U.S. and the young people of Mexico can achieve true healing from wounds caused by prejudice and institutional violence."

Set in El Paso, Texas, The Confessional examines the aftereffects of a teenager's brutal murder. After a confrontation with a Mexican student from his Jesuit high school, MacKenzie "Mac" Malone is found stabbed to death in his family's yard. In alternating chapters, Mac's classmates try to make sense of the episode, in the process revealing their own internal struggles and confronting their own prejudices. "The six distinct voices used to examine the tension between adopted country and ethnic pride rarely falter," a critic in Kirkus Reviews stated. Writing in School Library Journal, Shelley Huntington observed that "these characters will reach mature teens eager to hear their own preoccupations echoed and, perhaps, clarified."



Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of The Confessional.

Publishers Weekly, July 30, 2007, review of The Confessional, p. 85.

School Library Journal, December, 2007, Shelley Huntington, review of The Confessional, p. 142.


California Readers Web site,http://www.californiareaders.org/ (November 10, 2008), Bonnie O'Brian, "Meet J.L. Powers."

J.L. Powers Home Page,http://www.jlpowers.net (November 10, 2008).

About this article

Powers, J.L. (Jessica Powers)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article