Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers? This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication. The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
Sometime in the near future, Jenna Fox, 17, awakens from an 18-month-long coma following a devastating accident, her memory nearly blank. She attempts reorientation by watching videos of her childhood, "recorded beyond reason" by worshipful parents, but mysteries proliferate. Jenna can recite passages from Thoreau yet can't remember having any friends. As memories return, however, Jenna starts picking at the explanation her parents have spun until it unravels. Pearson (A Room on Lorelei Street ) uses each revelation to steadily build tension until the true horror comes into focus. Even then Pearson does not stop; she raises the ante in unexpected ways until the very last page. Clues are supplied by the supporting cast: Jenna's father, who made his fortune in biotechnology; a classmate whose loss of limbs has turned her into a crusader for medical ethics; Jenna's Catholic grandmother, who is hostile to her. A few lapses in logic- if Jenna's father is world-famous and the family in hiding, why does she enroll in school under her real name?-can be forgiven in favor of expert plotting and the complex questions raised about ethics and the nature of the soul. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)
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Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
August 30, 2009
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Excerpt from The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
I look at my fingers again, the ones that trembled and shook just a few days ago at Mr. Bender's kitchen table. I bring them together, fingertip to fingertip, like a steeple. Each one perfect by appearance. But something is not . . . right. Something that I still have no word for. It is a dull twisting that snakes through me. Is this a tangled feeling that everyone my age feels? Or is it different? Am I different? I slide my steepled fingers, slowly, watching them interlace. Trying to interlace, like a clutched desperate prayer, but again, I feel like the hands I am lacing are not my own, like I have borrowed them from a twelve-fingered monster. And yet, when I count them, yes, there are ten. Ten exquisitely perfect, beautiful fingers.