Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

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HarperCollins, 2020. ISBN: 9780063056718.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. The first chapter opens with Enchanted slowly regaining consciousness in the chaos of a blood-splattered room, Korey hanging face-down across a bed, and police pounding outside the door. Then we are stepped back to the events that led to this day. Enchanted Jones is a 17 year old, in her last year of school, a champion of the swimming team, but her real interest is singing and she is determined to overcome her parents' reservations and win an auditioning competition.
A chance meeting sees Korey Fields walk into her life. He is 28 years old, famous, a singing idol, and he is interested in her and her songs. It is a gradual process, text messages, snatched moments, he is genuinely impressed by her voice, cares for her and wants to help her succeed. It is easy to be drawn to him, but before she can really work out how it happened Enchanted finds herself trapped by a violent manipulator.
Jackson's description of the gradual process of grooming by Korey is very realistic. He is charming, he shares her taste in songs, and he reveals episodes from his own path into the music industry as a 14 year old, so that Enchanted sees his vulnerable side. But with time she discovers there is also a 'Mr Hyde' side to him that is angry, cruel and violent. And she has become so isolated from the people that care about her that there is no way of escape from him.
The book comes with a content warning about mentions of sexual abuse, rape, assault, child abuse, kidnapping and addiction to opioids. But the scenes are not graphic, the focus is more on the gradual sense of degradation, fear and powerlessness that trap Enchanted, and provide insight into the situation of many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The story is fast-paced, with short chapters that carry the reader along, and there is a twist in the narrative that adds another element of mystery, keeping readers guessing. Readers of gritty books like On the come up by Angie Thomas will also enjoy this book about an aspiring young black singer who finds herself alone facing a situation that is beyond anything she could have predicted.
Themes: Entrapment, Sexual abuse, Violence.
Helen Eddy