GROWN by TIFFANY D. JACKSON
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
I’m a fan of Tiffany D. Jackson. A big fan, if you haven’t noticed. I’ve reviewed two of her books in the past (Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming) and absolutely loved them. Grown is no exception. Anyway, I’m glad we could get my early praise out of the way so we can delve more into what Grown is actually about: Following the story of seventeen-year-old Enchanted Jones, called “Chanty” by her friends and family, Grown is a harrowing story of abuse and sexual predation, and what happens when victims of abuse–especially children–aren’t believed. This book is also based around R. Kelly’s case–involving the sexual abuse of dozens of Black and brown women, many much younger than him, and many under the age of consent. That said, Grown is not an easy read, but it is an important and powerful one.
What I love most about Tiffany D. Jackson’s books is that Ms. Jackson is not afraid to delve deep into whatever the topic at hand is. Her books are raw and real and they don’t shy away from difficult topics. Allegedly covers teen pregnancy and systemic racism in the justice system while spinning a thrilling murder mystery, while Monday’s Not Coming is a horrific story of parental abuse and how our justice system fails girls of color. Then comes Grown, a no less terrifying story, and no less important. Tiffany D. Jackson’s voice varies with every book she writes. The characters are all so distinct and compelling and I literally could not put this book down. I read in it a day over the course of two sittings. That’s how much I loved it.
As I’ve mentioned before in this review, Grown is harrowing. It is very hard to read at times because Ms. Jackson doesn’t let the reader blink, so to speak. There is no breathing room. As soon as Enchanted meets Korey Fields, the R. Kelly-type character and Enchanted’s eventual abuser, the reader just knows something awful is going to happen. And awful things do happen. This book shows how domestic abuse is subtle at first, how it escalates from yelling to hitting to locking ENchanted in a room where the only place she has to relieve herself is a small ice bucket. We’re forced to watch as Enchanted loses herself and her dreams of becoming a pop star to a much-older Korey Fields, who is as monstrous and manipulative as they come.
In true Tiffany D. Jackson style, there’s also some gotcha elements involved. None of these reveals feel cheap, however, and Jackson does a great job of setting these twists up so the reader feels shocked–but not blindsided–by their truths. This book also includes important discussions around victimhood, meaning which victims get believed and which victims don’t. It also delves into the idea of victims “asking” to be abused while critiquing the systems that set victims up to fail.
Truly, Tiffany D. Jackson is a master of the YA mystery thriller and Grown is another homerun. Please mind the trigger warnings for physical abuse, sexual abuse, drugs, and kidnapping. You can pick up our copy of Grown at the Argenta Library today!