Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

a book review

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Image via Goodreads

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

After tricking her mother into taking her to an audition, Enchanted meets R&B star Korey Fields and begins a text relationship with him.

This is how Grown, Tiffany D. Jackson’s mystery/psychological thriller begins, following Enchanted Jones, a Black teen girl who attends a mostly white private school. The oldest of four children, she is frequently required to assist with babysitting and aspires to be a singer, despite her parents’ disapproval. 

The novel alternates between the “present day,” in which the R&B star Fields is dead (by whose hand we don’t know), and flashbacks that show how Enchanted was seduced and exploited by Fields. 

While the novel’s ending felt a little rushed to me, the build-up of Korey preying on Enchanted (which I refuse to call a “relationship”) was spot on. Enchanted is an outcast at her private school and does not fit in with her peers. Korey was able to deepen her resentment toward her parents for not taking her singing ambition seriously, making her an easy person to isolate.

The entire book is told from Enchanted’s point of view, and she becomes increasingly entangled in the abuse Korey inflicts on her. Korey manipulates her by telling her “secrets” and displaying (false) vulnerability. He expresses his belief in her singing career potential. He tells her that his intense jealousy stems from a caring heart. He coerces her into changing her appearance to suit his preferences. He gradually wears Enchanted down until she believes that “he must turn into a different person when drinks… he’s going to wake up and not remember a thing that happened. He’ll be so apologetic, begging for my forgiveness…”

Too often, powerful men and their accomplices are elevated in society, blinding us to their crimes and allowing them to prey on the vulnerable and marginalized, and this book portrays how at times these child abusers can be magnetic, making it difficult to escape their abuse and influence. That is depicted really nicely in the novel. However, because of this, the first two-thirds of the story felt leisurely paced. The chapters are brief, which helps, but in fiction, readers want to see the protagonist taking action to correct their condition. Enchanted doesn’t do that for a long time due to the brainwashing Korey forces on her.

Despite the slow pace, Grown has several charming details, such as the swimming theme and metaphors based on Disney movies. These elements give Enchanted additional dimension and contribute to the overall texture of the book. They lend more continuity to the parallel timeframe, and we are reminded of the well-adjusted, vibrant girl Enchanted used to be, even as she becomes an abused girl in torpor.

Grown keeps readers hooked from the first page. I enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s looking for more mystery/psychological novels. The plot twists are amazing. It’s definitely a book to pick up if you’re looking for a good page-turner!