All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Kerry Madden-Lunsford

Advisory Committee Members

Jaclyn Wells

Jay Jesse

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts in Education (MAE) School of Education


Waffle is a novel about a high school senior realizing she has an anxiety disorder and is pansexual. Aside from wanting to tell a version of my own story, I want this to be a young adult novel that has appropriate, diverse representation. Given that several characters have identities different than mine (Jay having a single parent, Ginger being Black and having Type One Diabetes, Ella being transgender with divorced parents, and Birdie being Taiwanese-Korean American), I will need a lot of research and help to write these characters well. I want the information and experiences regarding race, gender, sexuality, animal care, and mental health to all be as accurate as possible. I want this novel to help young adults feel comfortable with their complicated identities and experiences, and I want it to point young adults to good resources for processing the transitions to adulthood.In Part One of Waffle, Jay Thresh’s world gets turned upside down. Jay has always felt just good enough. She makes As and Bs, shows up on time to band but hasn’t practiced, goes to church but hides behind her pastor mother. She’s just kind of making it, until the pressure of senior year starts to get to her. She starts having panic attacks and crushes on all the wrong people. She even brings a stray dog home at the exact worst time possible. Her best friend, Ethan, seems to be figuring things out so much faster than her. If he’s bi, maybe they don’t have the chemistry she’d thought they had. Maybe her new feelings for Birdie are a sign that she’s bi too or pan? And she can’t even talk to her other best friend, Ginger, about it, because Jay’s struggled to see how Trump affects Ginger, who is Black and has Type One Diabetes, more than Jay, who is white and non-physically-disabled, not to mention, Jay missed the robotics championship (and Ginger is the robotics president). When the holidays hit, things get colder. Birdie plans to leave for California. Jay finds a dress in Ethan’s closet and wonders if she knows him—or her?—at all. Ginger doesn’t even text to celebrate Doug Jones winning the Senate race. When Jay’s Grandpa passes away, it’s the breaking point. Her older brother, Parker, is too obsessed with law school to even show up. She’s alone, and her new therapist isn’t letting her just pray it all away like she used to. The only thing getting her through is a puppy, Waffle, that her mother won’t let her keep. Sumac, AL is starting to crumble before her, until finally she and Ginger make amends. Jay tries to put in more effort to listen and understand what Ginger is going through. They visit UAB, see a Mardi Gras drag show. Jay begins to wonder what life will be like after high school.

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