Local Literary Talents Celebrated at Mahopac Public Library

By Kerry Barger

For the first month after the birth of her fourth-born, Mahopac High School science teacher Jennifer Degl was not allowed to hold her daughter.

“My daughter was born 1 pound, 4 ounces at 23 weeks and a couple of days in May of 2013, which is as young as you can get,” Degl said. “I was in the hospital for two months and after was on bed rest on and off, so I started to journal for therapy for myself.”

Channeling the rollercoaster of emotions she experienced with her family and daughter Joy throughout a four-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Degl said she continued “writing and writing her thoughts.”

“After a month of us being home, I looked at what I had written and was going to transfer it to her baby book and decided it might help other people, anybody who was going through something similar,” Degl said.

These thoughts ultimately translated into a book titled “From Hope to Joy: A Memoir of a Mother’s Determination and Her Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds,” which was published by Lemon Tree Publishing in August 2013. The book, along with a variety of other works, was on display at a local meet-the-author event hosted at the Mahopac Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The event featured books by authors throughout Putnam, Westchester and Dutchess counties, talents Vincent Dacquino said should be more recognized in our area.

“This is a celebration of literacy, this is a celebration of authors—it’s our way of saying ‘Do you know this community as a great deal of talent?’” Dacquino, who leads a weekly writers group at the library and is published author himself, said. “Often we celebrate the sports, the athletes; we don’t support the academics as much as we should, so we want to be role models for this community, to let people know there were a couple hundred books published by authors in this county, this area.”

Local authors like Degl reflect Dacquino’s sentiments about literary talent originating right in our hometown.

“I’m a science teacher, I don’t even really spell that well to be honest, and here I am; I hired an editor and wrote a book,” Degl said. “If there’s an opportunity to help people, I think it’s important to do so.”

Despite these claims of not being a prototypical author, Degl’s book has garnered an impressive 5-star rating from 26 reviews on Amazon.

“These books cover everything from children to adults, to real estate, to cooking—they help people physically, mentally, every way you can possibly think,” Dacquino said. “It doesn’t matter what these people write. It’s what they bring to the table that matters.”

And like many of the books featured at the event, Degl’s story contains a happy ending. With minimal complications, she said Joy “beat all the odds” and is doing “wonderful.”