I received an advanced copy from Edelweiss+ and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
Ooo, boy, Tiffany D. Jackson hit it out of the park again.
While I haven’t been able to pick up a copy of Monday’s Not Coming or Let Me Hear A Rhyme, I was lucky enough to read Allegedly a couple years ago and loved every word of it. In true Tiffany D. Jackson fashion, this book has made me cry, gasp, and scream once again in all the best ways. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a teen novel about sexual assault – whether it go the way of Parachutes by Kelly Yang or Sadie by Courtney Summers – but Grown is completely in a category of its own.
The book begins with Enchanted Jones, a teenage girl and aspiring song artist, auditioning in front of this universe’s biggest stars. Although she is ultimately rejected by the celebrity judges, she catches the eye of Korey Fields, a world-renowned singer. He talks to her a bit behind the curtain, promising to help her with her career, and this is where it begins. Enchanted is tricked into going on tour, becoming sexually manipulated and abused, and accused of murdering Korey Fields in cold blood.
The abuse and manipulation is written flawlessly written. He controls her; tricks her into doing exactly what he wants. Her hair? Too short, wear a wig. Her religion? False, only God is true. Her family? Liars, every one of them. She believes him nearly every step of the way, and when she tries to leave, he threatens to kill himself or ruin her friends and family. The entire time I was reading this, I wanted to reach out and help her – tell her she need to turn away and tell someone as soon as possible – but instead, the reader is forced to watch as this poor girl’s life is ruined by a grown-ass man. Every good moment of her young life is now associated with a man who rapes and controls her to no-end.
Early on in the novel, Enchanted’s best friend tries to put some sense into her, which I’m grateful for. However, this friend ultimately ghosts her, leaving Enchanted in the shadows alone. There is one seemingly-good light at the end of the tunnel for Enchanted later on, a boy her age who sees what Korey is doing to her and tries to help her. Sadly, this light is snuffed once he is revealed to be less sympathetic with her case.
The most realistic point of this story, other than a grown-man’s manipulation and pedophilic actions, is how useless the cops in this universe are. She reaches out to them several times, is even kidnapped right in front of their eyes in a Waffle House, and they do absolutely nothing to help her. When she escapes him, they think she’s lying about everything and trues to turn the blame on her in every situation. In the end, over sixteen girl come forward saying they were sexually assaulted by Korey Fields, and for the most part, the cops act as if nothing happened. Genuinely, this detail made me both frustrated and ecstatic at how realistic it was.
Maybe the only complaint I have about this book is the incorporation of mental illness, specifically Enchanted’s imagining things. While I understand why it was there, and I liked how it was incorporated into that twist ending, I feel it was a little random and unnecessary. Maybe if it had been written a little sooner into the book I would have gotten into it? Overall however, this was a fantastic read.
One final thing: Please, for the love of god, listen to the trigger warning at the beginning! I appreciate HarperCollins for putting a trigger warning, but I still wasn’t expecting just how intense this book would be. 100% I think teens can read Grown, but please be wiser than me and listen to the trigger warning. You’ll thank me later.
Rating: 9.7/10, classically Tiffany D. Jackson.
This book comes out September 15th. You can pre-order now wherever books are sold.
Rep: black women, mental illness/health, sexual assault.