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Author Jennifer Gasner will release memoir 

Author Jennifer Gasner will be at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market Sept. 7 as she releases “My Unexpected Life: Finding a Balance Beyond My Diagnosis.” (courtesy photo)

Author Jennifer Gasner will release memoir 

By Ashley Shah

Jennifer Gasner, a Mira Mesa resident and prominent advocate for those with disabilities, will publish “My Unexpected Life: Finding a Balance Beyond My Diagnosis.” The memoir will be available beginning Sept. 7, and she will have a booth at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market on the same day.

“When I was 17, I was diagnosed with a disease called Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare neuromuscular disease. I
didn’t know what to do. I went to college, but no one could tell what was going on. I fell into alcohol and a toxic relationship as a way to escape my worsening disease,” Gasner said. 

After some changes to her degree and career path, Gasner graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in
English and went on to complete her master’s degree in recreation. 

Gasner’s memoir, a coming of age story, follows her journey from her mid-teens to her late 20s as her disease developed.

“After I got my master’s, I worked at the Coalition for Independent Living Centers. When I started working there, that’s when I started to understand disability culture and things I needed to change,” Gasner said. “While I was working there, my symptoms had gotten worse, and I was in a wheelchair. I wasn’t used to it yet. But, this is where I met Dave Matthews, who made me feel worthy. I started learning how to adapt and accept.” 

This story follows a journey of fear to acceptance.

Gasner has been writing for more than 10 years. 

“When I was younger I always liked to write. I’ve been writing stories here and there since 2009. In 2017, my dad passed away, and I was in a dark spot. I wasn’t working and I was wasting time. After some time, I finally took a memoir class, and it ignited my creativity,” Gasner said. “A couple of years later, I took a year-long certification course through San Diego Writers Ink, and I kept writing from there.”

In 2020, Gasner was a part of an anthology. She has been in three other anthologies since then. 

“I have spent the past year writing at Hunters of Hendrix coffee shop (in Scripps Ranch). I love seeing the different people that show up there,” she said. 

At the moment, Gasner has no plans for the future of her writing career. 

“I don’t know what I want to do after this memoir. I am trying to figure it out. The promotion for this book has become more work than writing the actual book,” Gasner said. 

Besides her writing, Gasner is heavily involved in advocating for those with disabilities. She is a mentor for What’s Next, a program that focuses on youth with disabilities. She serves as a co-chair for UC San Diego’s Staff Association for staff members with disabilities. She is an ambassador for Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance.

Her memoir is another way to advocate for those with disabilities. 

“What I hope that people gain from my book is that what we are taught about disability, how we are kind of socialized to understand disability is different than what reality is. It isn’t always a sad story of struggle, there are good things that come from it,” Gasner said. 

Her memoir can be purchased on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com