Monday, August 2, 2010


Last week I received exciting news that my agent sold foreign rights for my next book, Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best, to a publisher in Germany.

This has led me to thinking a lot about … Jersey. Granted, my book is only nominally about New Jersey, despite the title. (Which, incidentally, I got from a tee shirt my mother gave me when I was a teen.) “Jersey” is only the background noise in this novel; the theme is friendship.

Nevertheless, I’ve been wondering how Jersey translates for a German teen: the turnpike, the jokes, the shore …

The shore. That’s when it hit me. That reality TV show, Jersey Shore, which is about a group of twenty-somethings living in a summer rental in Seaside Heights, airs all over Europe. Not only are German teens familiar with Jersey: they think Snookie is The Garden State’s poster child.

If you don’t know who Snookie is, and if you graduated from high school when I did you probably don’t, Google her.

Anyone who buys my book thinking the main characters remotely resemble Snookie is in for a big disappointment. And anyone who thinks the eight drunken, foul-mouthed, albeit stunningly tanned, roommates from this series represent “typical” Jersey girls and boys is … far from completely right. Only one of those actors is actually from Jersey, as it turns out. Most hail from Staten Island. So there.

Thus, in a somewhat defensive mode, I decided to compile a list of Ten Things You Probably Didn’t Know About New Jersey. As I compiled I had to admit: my beloved home state (because even though I was born in New York and will most likely live out the rest of my life in Maine, I am a Jersey Girl) has its highs and lows. In all fairness, I’ve included both:

1. (high) Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Judy Blume, and Aaron Burr, are all New Jersey natives. (Hmmm … Burr might be a low …)

2. (low) New Jersey has more toxic waste dumps than any other state in the nation.

3. (high) The light bulb, phonograph and motion picture projector were invented in Menlo Park, New Jersey, by Thomas Edison.

4. (low) New Jersey is the car theft capital of the world. More cars are stolen, per capita, in Newark, than in any other city in the world.

5. (high) The honeybee is the New Jersey state bug.

6. (low) North Jersey has the most shopping malls in one area in the world, with seven major shopping malls in a 25 square mile radius. (I made this a low because I spent too much time in malls as a child and now have serious aversions to shopping.)

7. (high) The first baseball game was played in Hoboken, New Jersey.

8. (low) The first Indian reservation was in New Jersey.

9. (high) Atlantic City is where the street names came from for the game “Monopoly.”

10. (low) New Jersey has the highest population density in the U.S.

And, of course, New Jersey has the absolute best, most amazing tomatoes. What the orange is to Florida, the peach to Georgia, and the blueberry to Maine, so is the tomato to Jersey.


  1. 11. (high) You are from New Jersey too!

  2. After some random surfing, I arrived on your site and blog! Back at the alma mater, I remember that you hailed from the Garden State like me. Thus I feel qualified to say your list is 100% accurate.

  3. Debby, coming from a fellow Jerseyite, that means a lot.