The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson was my #1 “must get ARC” at ALA Midwinter ’08.

Wow. Just wow. I read this in one sitting, unable to put it down. I’m not even sure how to review it, because I don’t want to give anything away. Jenna Fox has been in an accident. She spent the last year in a coma and doesn’t remember anything from her old life. She has to relearn how to walk, how to talk, and how to do something as simple as smile. She doesn’t even know who she is. However, she does remember historical facts and can recite Walden from memory. While in a coma, she was moved from Boston to California. Her family’s new home is sterile and void of any of Jenna’s old belongings. There is nothing to trigger her memories. She has no friends and no family other than her mother, father, and a grandmother who seems to despise her. Something isn’t right and she can’t even begin to figure out what that something is.As she struggles to rediscover who she is, her parents refuse to answer any of her questions. Their cover story begins to unravel and nothing is as it seems. At the risk of spoiling what is an amazing story, I’ll stop there. But you must pick up a copy of this book. If you haven’t preordered this yet…..well, get on that!

An amazing science-fiction story, I would classify Pearson’s novel as dystopian. It’s a frightening look at where our society is headed and what might happen in our future. It raises questions of medical ethics, bioethics, humanity, and how far we are willing to go to save someone we love. The plot doesn’t seem outlandish or out of the realm of possibility. In fact, it seems frighteningly possible.

Despite being a science-fiction novel (a genre better known for being full of clunky science/technology jargon), Pearson writes captivating, lyrical prose. Scattered throughout the book are poems, written from Jenna’s point of view and seemingly in her own mind. Each one is beautiful and could stand on it’s own, outside the book.

Each of the characters are captured perfectly. Jenna struggles with her own identity while trying to figure out who her parents really are and what her relationship was and will be with them.

This was a perfect book for me to read right now. It fits in perfectly with my unit on ” The Giver” and I can’t wait to pass this on to a few of my students. The questions it brings up will be wonderful for letter-essay reader’s response and for comparison to Lowry’s novel. Pearson has really outdone herself and this should be a runaway success.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox will be released April 29, 2008. Pre-order your copy now!

*A note on the cover- how gorgeous is it?? One of my favorites for 2008 so far!

** Also, I was thrilled that Mary Pearson incorporated an eco-artist into the story. Eco-art is something my class will be working on later this year and it is rarely mentioned in popular literature! Kudos to Mary Pearson for that!

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

Drums, Girls, And Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick has been sitting in my to-read pile for about 3 months now. I’m not sure what inspired me to pick it up today, but I am so glad that I did. I spent the last 2 hours reading and crying, feverishly wiping tears off my face so no one around me would notice. Sonnenblick has written an extremely powerful book that every student should read.

Steven is your average 8th grader- he can’t talk to girls to save his life, the girl he loves has no idea he exists, and his little brother, Jeffrey, tends to annoy him more than anything else. Steven’s greatest love in life are his drums and practice pads. He is a gifted drummer who is lucky enough to be in the All-City Jazz Band. In fact, he and his friend Annette are the only 8th graders in the whole city who are selected for the All-City Jazz Band. Steven spends all of his free time at school and at home practicing his songs and preparing for the city-wide concert later that year. Music is his thing and the concert is his one moment to shine.

One morning, Steven decides to be the good big brother and make Jeffrey “moatmeal” (translation: oatmeal) so that Jeffrey doesn’t wake their parents up. As Steven grabs the oatmeal from the cabinet, he leaves 5 year old Jeffrey on the kitchen stool, a big no-no in his over-protective mom’s eyes. Steven thinks his mom is a little too overprotective, and really, what can happen in 5 seconds? But while he has his back turned, Jeffrey falls off the stool and his nose begins to bleed. When their parents rush downstairs after hearing Jeffrey’s cries, they are unable to stop the bleeding. From that moment on, Steven’s life is turned upside down.

Jeffrey’s illness becomes the focal point of Steven and his family’s life. Steven struggles with being an 8th grade kid and the older brother of a very sick little boy. Steven is such a real character- I felt like I knew him and almost like I would be him if I was in the same situation. While Jeffrey’s illness is the most important aspect of the family’s life, it is not always the most important part of Steven’s life. This is a struggle for him. How normal can you be when your life at home is anything but normal? Sonnenblick handles the storyline with a deftness I did not expect. I laughed out loud while tears ran down my cheeks at many points. I am very seriously considering this as my next class read-aloud, despite the fact that I know I will cry through a great deal of it.