Grown by Tiffany Jackson – Book Review

Title: Grown

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: September 15, 2020

RATING: 4 Stars

Content Warning: The novel contains explicit content, including sexual abuse, rape, drug use and addiction, assault, child abuse, and kidnapping.

When Enchanted Jones wakes up with blood on her hands, the mystery of Korey Fields’ death is fraught with questions, accusations, and a reckoning about a young girl suffering from unspeakable abuse. That is now.

This was then. Enchanted navigates life as a big sister, life in the predominantly white suburbs, and life as one of the only Black students at a private school. No matter the changes around her, one thing has never changed – her singing aspirations. Enchanted loves to sing, and after she auditions for a TV show, she meets the famous singer Korey Fields. Korey wants to take Enchanted under his wing and help her achieve stardom. However, Korey’s intentions are sinister. With unparalleled speed and abetted by his own team, he grooms Enchanted, controls her, and abuses her. She is trapped in Korey’s dark, twisted world. What will it take for her to escape? And when she does, what will it take for others to believe her story and help her seek justice? All answers seem to lie with the deceased, Korey Fields.

Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown is a disturbing, haunting story of the abuse of a minor. Jackson’s novel echoes the various cases against convicted abuser, R. Kelly, with the dramatic flair of a murder-mystery. It toggles between past, “the then,” and the present, “the now,” to propel the narrative. As it does, readers peel back the layers of narrative drama, and Enchanted’s story comes to serve as a cautionary tale about the insidious and pervasive suspicion women of color face when reporting cases of sexual assault. Enchanted is shamed and blamed for her abuse, a much too common occurrence shouldered by girls and women, especially Black girls and women, seeking justice against their abusers. In Grown, these realities are fully and effectively portrayed. They became, deservedly, maddening and disheartening, and their presence as themes and issues lie at the core of the novel. The obstacles women of color face in these moments undoubtedly merit attention, consideration, and contemplation. They deserve to be deeply explored. Because they need to be heard, and they need to know they will be heard. And most importantly, they need to be believed. In Jackson’s hands, Grown is a call to believe Black girls and women.

Grown’s fast-paced, murder-mystery thrills create a page-turning tour-de-force. It’s impossible to put down. Young adults and teens will undoubtedly think so too. Given the novel’s content and social justice orientation, important conservations about race, society, and the justice system will surely abound. Due to the novel’s explicit content, though, it is important to consider whether readers are mature enough to engage with it, a consideration that should also include parents and guardians because of its explicit nature and the fraught conversations associated with it.

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, for an eARC of this book!

Book Companions: The following are great books to pair with Grown. In parenthesis are the specific aspects students could explore when synthesizing across the texts.

  • Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Character Connections, Themes)
  • Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (Character Connections, Themes)
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Character Connections, Themes)

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