Before I even bought this book I knew it was going to hit me like a tonne of bricks. Having found Monday’s Not Coming and Allegedly both excellent reads, I have been looking forward to reading Grown for so long. And now I’m emotionally destroyed because woah, this hit hard. Grown is a book about the horrors of the music industry for women and girls, and how in particular the world does everything in its power to not believe Black women and girls. Also, this is one of my favourite covers ever.
Star rating: 5 stars
Enchanted Jones is one of the only people of colour in her fancy private school. Her tight knit family moved to the suburbs to give their children a better life, and struggle to make ends meet between raising the children and paying the school fees. Mom LaToya has goals for Enchanted, get into college through good academics and performing at swim meets. But Enchanted loves to sing, which is the last thing on her Mom’s list. After an audition where the judges find her not suitable, Enchanted catches the eye of incredibly famous singer Korey Fields who sees her talent and takes advantage. Enchanted’s music career takes off, but not without its consequences.
I cannot begin to describe how deeply uncomfortable this book made me feel pretty much the entire way through. Enchanted, 17 years old, is a girl with big dreams and a lot of determination. Korey is 28, a manipulator paedophile who takes advantage of Enchanted and is actually disgusting. What the book does so well is capture Enchanted’s innocence – she’s got a crush on a famous musician like a lot of other teenage girls, he’s ‘mentoring’ her and giving her opportunities she couldn’t even imagine for herself. Korey makes her believe that he’s her one chance of success, and also manipulates Enchanted’s struggling parents into letting him take her on tour. Isolated from everyone she knows, Enchanted’s musical dreams take a turn for the worst thanks to this man who has so much power and no accountability, and all of the other adults who enable him.
What struck me the most is that the majority of adults outside of Enchanted’s family do everything they can to not take Enchanted’s situation seriously. Even her ‘friends’ at the club she attends for affluent Black kids don’t completely believe her. They make her feel like she’s going crazy and imagining things, it really did break my heart. I also really felt for Enchanted’s parents, who do absolutely everything to get her back while Korey is telling their daughter the exact opposite.
Overall, this book is devastating, very traumatic and I wouldn’t recommend for younger teens. But it’s an important story, one that highlights injustices towards Black women, never believed, never taken seriously. If you liked Tiffany’s other books you’ll definitely like this one too.