Pages: 384 pages
Published: September 15, 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Race
For such an important subject while discussing relevant issues, this novel should leave readers with powerful emotions and a different outlook on society. But with this latest book by Tiffany D. Jackson, I was left confused and frustrated at how poorly executed this book was told. It had so much potential to be a strong book but it became another YA novel floundering in the wind.
The audiobook and the book cover art were the only two positive aspects of this novel. The voice actor did a great job narrating the story. However, it wasn’t enough to save this story. The first issue was the poor attempt at making this a mystery. It had none of that suspense, that intrigue, any of the typical characteristics you expect in a mystery/thriller. I think the confusion may be because Jackson had a hard time picking one thing genre/topic to focus on. Is this a murder mystery or a discussion about the exploitation of black girls? Jackson should have picked on a theme and stuck with it. Because of this, I felt this story was all over the place. The pacing was way off and drew attention away from the important issues Jackson was bringing to readers’ attention.
Second issue: lack of character development. Enchanted and her parents were unrealistic and the dynamic they had was just not believable. Anyone can be tempted by fame and believe anything, but the way it was portrayed here just o far fetched. Jackson had a great opportunity to dive into the reasons for their actions but she refused to lay down foundation behind those reasonings. I felt like I knew nothing about the characters or where they were coming from. What reason could there be for Enchanted to feel comfortable to believe Korey and go with him? I don’t have the answer to the question because Jackson didn’t portray that character that could answer that question. And the twist with Gab? Was that necessary? Her plotline was pointless and completely unnecessary.
The chance we got to learn more about Enchanted and her family was wasted when the mention of her grandmother’s mental illness. That could have provided a pivotal moment in the story, especially when a possible connection to Enchanted’s mental health was made. But like with everything else in this book, it went nowhere. I find mental illness an important subject to talk about. However, I do take great offence as using mental health as a plot device, without providing any context or explanation. Don’t use it as a cop-out, if you are going to mention it, have a productive discussion.
I could sit here and continuously list the problems that this book had (and there were many) but at the end of the day, this book could have been better written if Jackson took the time to write a unique story instead a story based off from a real headline story (based off the R. Kelly case). It wasn’t convincing enough because it wasn’t her story. Not only did she have trouble writing a consistent and believable narrative, but Jackson also had a hard time conveying a message that has been told in other novels. If she wanted a social commentary, she should have written a unique story, a narrative that readers have not heard of.
Weak narrative, underdeveloped characters and rushed ending, Grown has so much potential to be a great novel but it just became another YA novel that just failed to meet the mark.