The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Well, we’re back with another mother/daughter review.  This time we’re going to talk about The Adoration of Jenna Fox. It tells the story of a young girl, Jenna, who wakes up after having been in a coma for a year. Her parents tell her she’s been in a terrible car accident and it’s taken this long to recover.  The thing is, Jenna doesn’t remember very much about her life before the accident.

There were all sorts of clues  about what this book was going to be about. I had it figured out pretty early on, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. How quickly did you figure out Jenna’s story, Mallory?

Mallory: Well, I was pretty clueless at the start. I thought she was just a girl who’d woken up from a coma- and everything was normal. But near the middle of the story, I started to put things together and by the end, I’d already figured it out.

Christie: Pearson does an excellent job, though, of stringing the reader along. Under normal circumstances, waking up from a long coma would be disorienting. Jenna doesn’t even live in the same state as she had before the accident. Her friends aren’t there. Nothing is familiar. Strangely, her grandmother (who is living with them) is almost hostile. Plus, Jenna is also trying to cope with being a teenager and that’s all complicated by this 12 month hiatus from her own body.

Pearson does something else in this novel which seems to be popping up more regularly in fiction – she’s included some poetry which has been written by Jenna. What did you think of that, Mal?

Mallory: To be honest, I didn’t like the poetry. I’ve never been a massive fan of poetry and I didn’t really look forward to the regular poetry pieces that were scattered throughout the whole book. They were interesting, but I think the book could have done without it. All the pieces in the book were more or less the same. They were either about Jenna not remembering words or her being confused. It bored me; I’m sorry.

Christie: No need to be sorry. LOL

The Adoration of Jenna Fox reads like a mystery/thriller. You really race along trying to get at the novel’s center because even if you think you’ve figured Jenna’s story out, there are all sorts of little pieces that have to be fit together.

Mallory: Yeah, I agree. The whole book (like the cover art) is like a puzzle. You need to take all the little events and clues and piece them together. Some pieces may not fit, and then you have to start over. Because I have no patience at all for puzzles, I didn’t try to figure out the book at the start because I just end up angry and frustrated. But everything makes perfect sense in the end.

Christie: I’m not sure how Mallory feels about this, but I liked how this book made me think about what makes us human. I liked the way it echoed  Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, which is obviously a much more sophisticated novel, but Pearson’s book is a terrific book for its intended audience. I think it would be a great novel to teach. What was your overall feeling about it, Mal? Would you recommend it to your friends?

Mallory: Unfortunately, barely any of my friends care about reading, and they absolutely hate reading in class. But, if more of my friends read, I’d recommend this. I don’t know if this matters to you, Mom, but a huge part of a book- to me at least- is the characters. I need to fall completely in love with the characters and that makes the whole reading experience so much better. An example would be Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now. I probably mention this book wayyy too much,  but I’m obsessed. The first time I read this book I felt like I was a sister to all the characters. I loved them all, and my heart was bursting out of me whenever they were in danger. This is how I want to feel about a book, and I honestly didn’t feel that for Jenna Fox. If I had, I would’ve liked the book a lot more, but during the read I didn’t really care what happened to her. This disappointed me because it wasn’t me who was making the decision to not care for Jenna; it was just the way Pearson developed her main character.  Rosoff took nearly half the book to develop all of her characters, and it took me three words to become attached to Daisy. I wish every book could be like How I Live Now, but overall this book was good. Not amazing. But good.

Christie: Wordy much? That’s my kid- talking about character. It makes the book nerd (and English teacher) in me  swoon with delight.

I guess I liked this book a little more than you because I could see it from a couple different points of view. I understood Jenna’s mom, for example, and her motivations. I understood the grandmother…and as I have a daughter who is minutes away from being a teenager, I sort of got that perspective, too. It’s a great book for discussion…but it’s hard to discuss without giving stuff away…and we don’t want to do that.

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