Grown by Tiffany Jackson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mystery/Suspense 371 p. ALA Best Fiction for YA 2021 Diversity: African-American/Own Voices

Wow! What a powerful novel by Tiffany Jackson. I have devoured just about everything she has written, and my students love her books too. This novel could have some very interesting discussions with a book group.

Publisher note: When legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots Enchanted Jones at an audition, her dreams of being a famous singer take flight. Until Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night. Who killed Korey Fields?

There’s a lot in this book to unpack: how women are disrespected, especially black women, how difficult it can be to get away from an abuser, especially a young woman experiencing first love. And, how are boys being raised that their behavior is so often excused?

Fighting Words

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Realistic novel 259 p. Newbery Honor Book 5 stars

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. Her previous books The War that Saved My Life and The War I finally Won are very popular in my library and I think students would like this book as well. It isn’t always easy reading this novel as the topics of abuse can be raw and heart-breaking. But there is a lot of hope in the book as well. Della and her older sister Sookie find themselves in foster care with Francine. This is after their mother abandons them and they are left to live with her ex-boyfriend, who is an evil and sick man. They run away from him after Sookie comes home early to find him trying to assault Della. Francine, their new foster-mother is a no-nonsense person but shows the girls a lot more understanding than the other adults in their lives.

Della’s tells the story in a funny and straight forward manner. She uses the word snow as a substitute for curse words and confronts things head-on. She also becomes fascinated with wolves and wants to travel to Montana to see them. She compares her sister Sookie and herself to wolves as well. Sookie is dealing with depression and PTSD as she struggles to come to terms with her own abuse and taking care of Della. She has never been able to be a child–she has always had to take care of someone. I highly recommend this book and I hope teachers share this with their students.