Pearson, Mary E. (2008). The Adoration of Jenna Fox. NY: Henry Holt and Co. 265 pages.
Pearson’s book begins two weeks after its protagonist and narrator, the titular Jenna Fox, has woken from a one year coma. Following an accident about which she remembers nothing, Jenna is beginning her life anew, living with her mother and grandmother in California, far away from her home in Boston. Jenna must slowly put together the details of her former life and, as she idly watches the videos her parents have taken to document their daughter’s youth, she struggles with the anxiety emanating from her mother and the disdain and suspicion she feels with every encounter with her grandmother. The central questions: who is Jenna and what has she (or someone else) done?
As a fan of Peter Dickinson’s Eva, I was pretty sure I knew what was going on in Pearson’s novel. Turns out I was half right; the novel does deal with the third-party control and sustenance of the body and the concomitant medical ethics attached to the same, but there are no monkeys in this one. Rather, the novel gradually reveals connections between characters and incidents in a surprising way (I hadn’t predicted them, anyway), making the reading of the book a bit like the experience of the narrator: sudden “clicks” and discoveries.
The book moves quickly, not because it is breezily written, but because its premise and telling are so compelling. Brief poems meant to encapsulate Jenna’s dreams, thoughts, and subconscious musings punctuate the book and I wasn’t really a fan of those; however, when one of the twists is revealed near the end of the book, it made me wonder if it was really the voice of Jenna-the-narrator I was reading. If, indeed, I was reading the words of the character I suspect, the last poem kind of blows it out of the water. Then again, it’s still kinda possible (and I hope I’m right).
P.S. I’m not normally a proponent of the book trailer, but there’s a good one for this novel here: http://www.whoisjennafox.com/