The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson ISBN: 9780805076684
Plot Summary: Jenna has just woken up from a very long coma. She can’t remember what her life was like before, but this life seems odd. Her parents have moved her cross country to a house in the country and don’t really want her leaving the house. They’ve given her movies to watch of her childhood so she can remember, but that Jenna doesn’t really seem like the same person. And Jenna has nagging memories of her two friends, and something horrible that happened to them. Slowly the pieces come together and reveal the puzzle of Jenna’s past, and what she has become.
Critical Evaluation: I find myself returning, once again to look at the element of character in this book. It would appear that this batch of books I’ve read has more to do with character than anything else. But for “The Adoration of Jenna Fox,” it only seems natural. There is certainly conflict and a plot and setting in this book, but the big question is: who is Jenna Fox? The book is written in first person, which allows us a closer look at Jenna’s feelings and how she perceives the rest of the world. Unlike most other teens, Jenna has to relearn how to walk and eat, so some of the story relates to those basic skills most of us take for granted. While Jenna’s experiences are to an extreme, I’d guess that many teens share some of the feelings of alienation, confusion, and urge for more freedom that Jenna feels. So, even though she is quite different from most teens, the reader develops a connection with her through the universal elements of her struggle.
I will do my best not to reveal the twist of this book, but I did want to talk about the ethical issues brought up in this book. Some ethical gray areas are revealed to be at play in this story, and contrasting opinions about these areas are presented by different characters in the book. Writing about it now, I could see how it would feel sort of like an opposing viewpoints paper, but while reading this book, it did not feel forced at all. It felt like a natural progression, and a very real question that readers will be pondering for some time after finishing this book.
Reader’s Annotation: Jenna’s been in a coma and can’t remember anything from the past. So why are her parents hiding her away, and why doesn’t she feel like the girl she thinks she was before?
Information about the author: Mary Pearson was born in 1955 in Southern California. She was a storyteller from the start. Each morning, she would adopt a different persona and only respond when called by that name.
She was encouraged in her writing by many of her teachers along the way, which led to some time as an elementary school teacher. She studied Art for her bachelor’s from Long Beach State University, and got her teaching credentials from San Diego State University. She now writes full time and lives with her husband and two golden retrievers. She has two grown daughters.
Genre: Science Fiction
Curriculum ties, if any: This book raises some interesting ethical questions related to the medical industry that could be beneficial to discuss.
Booktalking Ideas: This is a very mysterious book, which I think can help lend some excitement to talking about it. Jenna finds herself with a lot of questions throughout the book, and can tell that her parents are not providing all the answers. It might be interesting to bring up some of those questions and see if teens have any guesses. For example, Jenna is said to walk kind of funny, and her fingers don’t lace together properly. Why would that be? Or what reason would Jenna’s parents have for moving her across the country, away from the work and lives of both of her parents?
Reading Level/Interest Age: Jenna is seventeen years old, and confronts ideas that will be better understandable for older teens. School Library Journal recommends it for grades 8 and up, and Publisher’s Weekly for ages 14 and up.
- Bioethical issues
- First, I would want to be familiar with book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
- Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
- Bibliographic Citation of the book.
- A description of who the book is best suited for.
- A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
- My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
- Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
- ALA Library Bill of Rights
- Good and bad reviews of the book
- Alternative works a student could read
- Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
- When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
- If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.
As with “Little Brother,” this book brings up a scenario that is not too far off from where we are today. From a recreational standpoint, I think teens will be engrossed in the story, waiting to find out more about Jenna and her past. From a more educational standpoint, this book can provide a basis for thinking about our own futures, and what we believe is right and wrong. It does not really encourage a decision in either direction, so I’d think people of varying beliefs could draw from it what they will.
Why did you include this book? : It came highly recommended, and helps me to balance out my collection in the science fiction area.
Pearson, M.E. (2012). About Mary. Mary E. Pearson website. Retrieved fromhttp://www.marypearson.com/about-mary.html