Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted. 

CONTENT WARNING:

  • Mentions of sexual abuse
  • Rape
  • Assault
  • Child abuse
  • Kidnapping
  • Addiction to opioids

My Review

So frequently women and girls are not believed. They’re asking for it. They knew what they were doing. They were dressing provocatively… Victims are blamed and shamed.

But then if that woman or girl is Black it gets even worse. Their bodies are inherently sexualised in society and it’s disgusting. Disgusting that somehow Black girls’ bodies don’t belong to them. They’re there for the male gaze. For male gratification.

In Grown Tiffany D. Jackson predominantly takes inspiration from the cases of sexual exploitation and sex crimes committed against teenage girls and young women that R. Kelly is currently awaiting trial for. But she also explores a little bit about young teenage girls having boyfriends that are significantly older than them at such a key point in their lives i.e. when they are still children and the male is a bona fide adult.

Grown follows seventeen year old wannabe singer Enchanted who is taken under the wing of twenty eight year old superstar musician and singer Korey Fields.

And what unfolds is an eerily chilling story of how Enchanted goes from bright and happy high school student, to an object of possession for Korey. We see how she’s groomed, gaslit, how her teenage crush is exploited by this adult, how her parents are fooled into thinking their daughter is safe. We see how this beautiful girl is destroyed to such a degree that she protects her abuser out of fear, and that she questions her sanity as to whether the things she thinks are occurring are actually occurring.

It’s horrible.

But brilliantly written.

It’s utterly engrossing and incredibly eye opening. Books like this are so important because they force the conversation of consent into the wide open. They force us to look at the balance of power within relationships and to acknowledge that a substantial age difference when you are a teenager just figuring your way in the world and the other person is already an adult may not be safe for the younger party. That many of these teens, that may have mature women’s bodies, aren’t emotionally equipped for the power-plays that are potentially involved. That because they look grown up doesn’t necessarily mean they are.

This is a tough read emotionally so please take note of the content warnings before you decide to read this. Very helpfully this book includes its own content warnings inside the cover. I absolutely applaud authors and publishers that take this responsibility to protect their readers.

The book is written in flashback fashion… it opens in the present with the seeming murder of Korey by Enchanted. And then the book goes back to the beginning, to when Enchanted first met Korey and works its way through the evolution of their relationship, from mentor to abuser. This narrative choice is brilliant. We understand from the snippets from the present time that Korey is an abuser. So it means that as readers we are analysing all of Korey’s behaviour and treatment of Enchanted from the get go. We have this insider knowledge that he’s a terrible person, so we are never blindsided by the change from charmer to monster. Instead the choice of narrative makes us see how easily it is to be manipulated, to be groomed by a predator… because Enchanted did nothing wrong. She was innocent. She followed her heart, her dreams. She was the victim. And the book scares us with how quickly a regular kid can become a victim. We see how she went from happy and hopeful to being a victim of emotional abuse. Being verbally abused and gaslit. Sexually abused and exploited. Physically abused and dehumanised. Gaslit into thinking she was worthless. Separated from her family. Imprisoned with her freedoms completely stolen from her until she was so broken that there was no more need for a locked door. She could go nowhere because that was the only option she was given. It’s a tough and harrowing read.

Truly this was an incredible book. I did feel the climax of the story turned a little too much into psychological thriller territory and that the narrative lost a little bit of its cohesion, but overall the message of this novel is loud and clear – ”This book is not about R. Kelly. It’s about adults who know the difference between right and wrong. Because no matter where you stand on the issue… he knew better.”

5 thoughts on “Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson – Book Review

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