I love throwing short, easy-to-read books in my rotation, especially after the doozy that was Ann Rule’s Ted Bundy biography. My young adult book club had the solution – Mary E. Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Jenna Fox has awoken from a really long coma with no memory of who she is or the accident that caused it. Her parents are incredibly attentive and protective. Her grandmother is oddly distant. And Jenna is incredibly isolated and alone. She begins to wonder what happened to make her parents so afraid of the outside world – and what they might be hiding from her.
This book was a really interesting, thought-provoking one. I can’t discuss too much about it actually as that might spoil it for you. This book is sort of sci-fi and takes place in a near-ish future United States. The places sound the same but the way of life is totally different. People communicate on Netbooks and schools are large mega-schools with thousands of students walking their halls. Jenna is the miracle child for her parents and as she regains more and more of her memories, she is also confronted with how unhappy she was being this miracle. She feels like she has quite a bit to live up to and for, not unlike most teenagers. Her mother had two miscarriages prior to Jenna so she feels the burden of three lives. It’s hard to say whether that is entirely self-imposed or if her parents did in fact engender this feeling. Now that she is recovering and awake, she yearns to remember her past and hopefully plan for a more interesting future than the quiet solitude of a mansion in disrepair in Northern California. The book poses some interesting questions around personhood, autonomy, scientific advancement and ethics, especially as it’s geared toward a younger audience.
I liked most of the secondary characters, with the exception of Jenna’s parents. At first I can almost sympathize with them. But then I remember parents were also teenagers once, and for these supposedly genius people, they were really dumb about their daughter’s reactions to her place in the world after her accident. Who can say if I’d have reacted any differently than they but I still feel mostly animosity toward them. Ethan, Jenna’s love interest, is sweet and the perfect loner boy with the good heart and scary past. Allys, Jenna’s other new friend, is sort of a foil to Ethan and Jenna, and is sort of the catalyst behind some of the books more serious questions. Lily, Jenna’s grandmother, is probably my favorite person in the book. Pearson’s writing is compelling and I was able to blow through this in about three days (it’s not long to begin with but it’s a page-turner). I am less hopeful about the sequels to this book just because their synopses on Goodreads don’t seem like the direction I wanted the story to go, but I may check them out at a future date.