Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: September 15th 2020
TW: sexual abuse, rape, assault, child abuse, kidnapping, addiction, grooming, emotional abuse, suicide
Tiffany D. Jackson delivers another riveting story with Grown, shining a light on predatory relationships and society’s complicity when it comes to disbelieving victims, especially when it comes to Black girls and women. Enchanted Jones is a talented singer, but knows the odds of being discovered aren’t in her favor. That is until Korey Fields, famous singer and heartthrob, takes notice of her at a competition. Drawn into his world, Enchanted can’t quite believe someone like Korey would take an interest in her musically and personally. He might be eleven years older than her, but no one seems to get her quite like he does. But his attention takes a dark turn and soon Enchanted isn’t sure how to escape this relationship. When Korey ends up dead, Enchanted becomes the obvious suspect. Proving her innocence won’t be easy when she had more reason than anyone to want Korey dead and can’t remember exactly what happened the night of his murder.
Grown is not an easy book to read. Told through Enchanted’s perspective, what feels like innocent flirting to this seventeen-year-old feels much more sinister to the reader. Enchanted is quickly enamored with Korey. His attention feels special, he makes her feel heard and in his eyes, she feels beautiful and more mature. He subtly manipulates her, first getting her to trust him and then using this trust as a weapon when she thinks about pulling away. As an adult, Korey already holds a lot of power over Enchanted, but when you couple this with the power he has in the very industry Enchanted is hoping to break into, his influence over her becomes almost unbreakable.
Tension builds as Jackson shifts between past and present timelines. As a reader, you watch as Korey’s attitude toward Enchanted slowly changes. He becomes irrationally possessive, threatening her, and isolating her from her friends and family. Korey’s death is not a surprise, you know it’s going to happen. And as he begins to continually abuse Enchanted, you begin to want it, to hope for it in order for her ordeal to end. But this is not the end for Enchanted. The present timeline begins with Enchanted discovering Korey dead and no memory of how it happened. Afterward Enchanted is further victimized by her peers and adults who slut-shame her behind her back, placing the blame of this relationship on her rather than the adult in the situation. The police are much more interested in building a case against her than hearing her story even when it becomes clear that Korey has a pattern of abusing underage girls. As the story progresses, it becomes apparent just how complicit those around Korey are. People like Korey cannot get away with what they do without the people around them turning a blind eye.
Grown is a gut-punch of a novel that will have the readers holding their breath from its bloody opening scene to the gradual exploitation of its protagonist and the final scenes where the truth of what happened to Korey Fields is finally revealed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★