Jennifer DiVita has been too young and “too seasoned” in her work life, but she’s just the right age for her first novel, Not Your Shoe Size: A Novel About Acting Your Age (or not!) that she released in August via her Hummingbird Book House. She moves from birth to age 100 with best friends Julia and Collette, taking them through the ups and downs of life—with great shoes.
DiVita, who is engaged to Brian DiVita so uses that as her author name, is known as Jennifer Feuerstein in her work as associate state director for AARP of Michigan and as cohost of “Real Possibilities” on WOOD-TV and “Buzz Tips” on ABC-4. She spoke with Grand Rapids Magazine about her journey from childhood storyteller to author and television personality.
GRM: How could you be both too young and “too seasoned?” JD: When I got married and had a son, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. I had two more children, and was home for 11 years. But at the nine-year mark I wanted to get my foot back in the door so applied to be a television reporter at age 31. I was told I was “too seasoned” to be on TV so they gave me a position as a producer, but I didn’t enjoy it.
I figured that since I couldn’t be on TV because I was “too seasoned,” despite my degree from CMU in broadcasting and journalism, I’d go into the field of gerontology. They asked, “Aren’t you a little young?”
GRM: Tell us about the journey to Not Your Shoe Size. JD: I started writing in 2014. There were so many highs and lows, including getting a divorce and sole legal custody of my children. Finally, when the world shut down in 2020, I started writing seriously and finished in 2021. I took a sabbatical in 2023 and tried traditional publishing routes but through conversations with friends decided to start my own publishing company.
GRM: What do you want your book to accomplish? JD: There are not a lot of novels about the aging process. Lots of nonfiction, but as the aging population increases, where are the books older women might enjoy? I want to allow women to say it’s OK to have gray hair and wrinkles. There are also a lot of educational aspects to the book, such as how to figure out home care, skilled nursing, statistics about dementia and Alzheimer’s. Aging is both art and science; there are a lot of science books out there but not a lot of art books like this one.
GRM: What is your message to women? JD: Be OK in your own skin. You don’t have to look younger or dress the way society’s rules tell you to. I always say that 60 is the new 60. Women slow down physically and feel like they have limitations, but we still have a lot of life yet to live, to learn, explore, give back, try new things, and have fun.