Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (April 29, 2008)ISBN-10: 0805076689
Source of book: Review copy from publisher
How far would you go to save your child? Is there a limit as to how much science and medicine should intervene when it comes to saving lives? These are questions that are still spinning around in my head three days after I finished The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson.
Set in a dystopian future where there have been enormous medical advances, 17-year-old Jenna Fox wakes up from a coma after a horrific car accident. As her memory gradually returns, she can't help but think that something is not quite right. How is possible that she can remember events from her infancy? How can she quote Thoreau's Walden word for word? Why does her grandmother seem to hate her? And why is her mother so secretive?
As Jenna struggles to find her identity and fit in with her peers, she discovers the terrible truth about the accident and her recovery that leaves her and her entire family in danger.
Mary E. Pearson's powerful writing and unique plot kept me up reading until 3:00 in the morning because I simply had to know what would happen to Jenna. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about when I say "powerful writing," here's an excerpt from when Jenna remembers an event from her childhood.
'You bought me another snow cone. A week later when we went back. It was--'
Mother begins to sob. She scoots her chair back and comes to me. Her arms wrap around my shoulders and she kisses my cheek, my hair. 'You're remembering, Jenna. Just like your father said. This is just the beginning.'
Jenna Fox is inside me after all. Just when I was ready to move on without her, she surfaces. Don't forget me, she says.
I don't think she'll let me. (p. 28)
However, despite the seriousness of the book, Mary E. Pearson never lets you forget that Jenna is a teenager and adds some lighthearted moments. For example, Jenna innocently calls her grandmother a bad name because her grandmother says she shouldn't be dating a classmate, Ethan. They're not dating, so Jenna calls her a "d**khead," a word she heard Ethan use, because she thinks it means, "annoying." When she's relating the incident to Ethan, you can see how flustered she is and how much she's struggling to express herself. You also get insight into Ethan's impish personality:
'So why is your grandmother a d**khead--I mean, annoying?' he asks.
I'm relieved that he breaks our silence first. 'Because she said we shouldn't be dating--' Oh, my God, Jenna. Stupid. Stupid.
'No. I mean, my mother thought--'
'Your mother thinks we're dating? Just because I'm giving you a ride home?'
'No. Well, yes. I mean, never mind.' Help. Every word seems to bury me further. Was I always this inept?
'Hm,' he says... 'So, why doesn't your grandmother like me dating you, other than I teach you bad words?' (p. 88)
I'm sure many teenagers will relate to this situation--the awkwardness of talking to someone you like, putting your foot in your mouth, not knowing the right thing to say, and I applaud Pearson for "keeping it real."
This is one of those books that I feel crosses over into the "adult" realm, and teenagers shouldn't be the only ones to read it. Every person (adult or teenager) who has questioned the role of science and the possibilities it can play in medicine should read this book.
How far would YOU go? How far should science go? As a mother myself, I think I know what MY answer would be.
What Other Bloggers Are Saying:
Jen Robinson's Book Page: "Don't read any more reviews - don't risk spoiling it - just go and get it. But make sure you have a clear chunk of time so that you can read it in one day. Because you're going to want to. Trust me." (read more...)
Becky's Book Reviews: "...one of the most original and amazing coming-of-age stories that I've read in quite a while." (read more...)
YA Notes Weblog: "The beauty lies in the exploration of the soul and the ethics as much as the biology of who we are. This is a must read for all of us." (read more...)