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Grown by Tiffany D Jackson - Review

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Where did I get it? I ordered it as I had read a couple of reviews and thought it sounded really good. It arrived in the middle of October and then I read it in November for a virtual book group. I suggested it. I'm writing this before that happened, so I don't know what everyone else thought!


What's it about? Enchanted is seventeen and lives in New Jersey with her family. She's the eldest of five kids, including sister Shea, who's fourteen, twins, and a little girl. Her parents work all hours to pay the bills and keep Enchanted and Shea in private school, meaning Enchanted is often left looking after the kids. She's on the swim team, but what she really wants to do is sing. She goes to an audition for a thing a bit like American Idol or The X Factor, and while she's there she meets musical superstar Korey Fields. She becomes infatuated with him, and eventually her takes her on tour as a backing singer. 

But his charm turns abusive. He stops Enchanted having any contact with her family, he tells her that he's paying their bills now so she can't leave, and he is physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive. She's not allowed to do anything by herself, and she's starved, kept from going to the bathroom, told what to wear, and so on. Korey has another girl in tow, too, and an absolutely chilling assistant, Jessica. 

At the very beginning of the book, Enchanted wakes up in Korey's apartment, and finds him covered in blood, dead. So throughout the book there's stuff from 'now', when Enchanted is having to answer questions about what happened, and 'then', when we see how she descends into getting stuck in Korey's circle with no hope of escape. In the 'now', every way Enchanted tries to turn to prove herself innocent is met with problems. 

I immediately drew parallels between what R Kelly did to Aaliyah and other women (watch the documentary on Netflix, it's so good, although extremely difficult to watch), and it's something the author mentions in the back of the book. I do want to point out though, as a white person, that this is also something that white men very much do to women too, and I sometimes think that the way society has latched on so much to black abusers is really racist, while we ignore abuses that have happened and continue to happen that are perpetrated by white people. I hope that makes sense, I just wanted to acknowledge it. 

I loved Enchanted's family unit, I loved how her parents worked so hard for the family and were good parents even though things were tight. I loved Shea. I liked Enchanted and her friends. It's a good book, I would definitely read something else by the same author. 


What age range is it for? Trigger warnings abound for rape, sexual assault, physical abuse, and more, so I'm going to say from a mature 15 onwards. Be careful! But it is written in such a way that it is still for teens (very deftly done, I think). 


Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No. 


Are any main characters people of colour? Yep, Enchanted and her whole family are Black. I loved the subplot about Enchanted's hair. She shaves it all off, mostly because it's better for swimming, and it's something her Daddy does for her. Korey likes her to have her hair long, and it becomes a thing between them. 


Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? There's some mental illness which was quite triggering, so be careful there too. 


Is there any sex stuff? Yes, and I would say none of it is consensual. It's hard to read. 


Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, Korey drugs Enchanted to keep her compliant, with what she calls 'purple drink'. There's some description of how it feels when she's taken it, so be careful there too. However, personally, I didn't think it was too graphic. 


Is there any talk of death? Yes, obviously, as Korey ends up murdered. It is somewhat graphic. 


Are there swear words? A few, but not many. 

 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none, but I did feel like the book tried to fit in an awful lot, and that meant there were some odd gaps in time when I felt even just a few words like 'three weeks later' would have contextualised things more.

I also wish we had seen a bit more of Korey's charm at the beginning of the book so that we understood why Enchanted fell for him so quickly. But that's a minor gripe. 

Also, as an adult reading this, I was just SCREAMING at Enchanted to PLEASE run, or PLEASE call home, but I appreciate that teenagers just don't think the same, and Enchanted seriously had been brainwashed by Korey and thought she had no other option but to stay with him. 


Would I recommend the book? Yes, a hundred percent. 


Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I knew I wanted to, so the book club was the perfect time to!

 

What do I think of the cover? It's gorgeous isn't it? It's the earrings Enchanted wears at her first audition, lent to her by her friend Gab. I love it. 

 

What other books is it like? A lot of the family background reminded me of Elizabeth Acevedo's novels. 


How many stars? Four out of five. 

 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'm keeping it for sure! 

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