Newcastle: Do it, be it, live it.

That was the motto of young Novocastrian Jennifer Phelan (upon her marriage Jennifer Bates) as she embarked on a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Warsaw, Poland in 1998. Keen to grab every opportunity that would present itself, “all or nothing” was one of her tenets for the year.

She kept a diary with plans to publish it later on. Upon her return to Australia, she studied architecture and worked on upgrades to Hunter schools and hospitals as a Public Works architect. She championed environmental causes with internationally recognised think tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) and spent a year in Bhutan as a volunteer together with her husband Jordi Bates.

Before she could publish her diary, Jennifer’s life was tragically cut short in a hit-and-run in Wickham in 2016. Now, her mother Kathryn Bennett has transcribed the diary and published it under the title Eighteen – all or nothing with all proceeds from book sales to be donated to BZE.

Author and presenter Scott Bevan calls it “a book brimming with wonder and love for what life can offer, … a testament to how love transcends life, as a mother realises a daughter’s dream.”

A second book, Mandala Memoir, is a joint project with Kathryn’s sister Judith, a photography and poetry reflection on Jennifer’s life through her wardrobe of shoes, complemented by haiku verses and beautifully illustrated with Mandalas, a reference to Jennifer’s time in Bhutan.

Eighteen: all or nothing is available in print or as an ebook. Ask your bookshop to order it as a print-on-demand title from Ingram Spark, RRP $22.70, paperback, 262 pp. Find Mandala Memoir at KAHM Co in New Lambton or at the Lighthouse Arts outlet at Nobbys Lighthouse, 36 pp., RRP $24.95.