Monday, February 19, 2018

Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is the author of the young adult novels Shade Me, Bitter End, Perfect Escape, Thousand Words, and Torn Away. Her debut young adult novel, Hate List, was chosen as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA Perfect Ten, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. She lives in the Kansas City, Missouri, area with her husband and children.

Brown's latest novel is Break Us.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Brown's reply:
Right now I am reading a crazy amount of YA and middle grade books, and they have all been really great. But there is one that stands out as the book that had me completely engrossed and will stay with me forever: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson.

Nine-year old Mary allegedly killed an infant while babysitting with her mother and was sent to “baby jail.” Now, six years later, she is living in a group home, trying to put together the pieces of her life, when she discovers that she herself is pregnant.

Mary has been tight-lipped about what happened the night of the baby’s death, but the court has decided that they will be taking her baby after he is born, and now she is more motivated than ever to set the record straight so she can keep her baby and make a life with his father, Ted. This means she must not only go up against the court of public opinion and the reluctant and sometimes biased justice system itself—but more frighteningly—the powerful force that is her very religious mother.

The voices in this book are so astonishingly real, I felt at times as if I was standing right there in the group home with these girls. Jackson pulls no punches, never shying away from the truth, and giving each character their own very individual, brutally honest voice. It reminded me of Orange is the New Black, only with higher stakes and more empathy.

I love gritty stories that make me think, and I gravitate toward books that have me questioning my own insulated suburban paradigms. This book makes bold statements about our justice system—particularly our juvenile justice system—and about how our global connectivity as a society can be brutal, even when the “offender” is a nine year old child. Decisions, truth and lies, race, compassion…goodness, this book has it all! And don’t even get me started about how it all comes together at the end!

Incidentally, I listened to the audio version of this book, and Bahni Turpin did an amazing job bringing just the right voice to these characters. If you have the inclination to listen, you should totally do so.

This is Tiffany D. Jackson’s debut novel, and I believe a hugely honest and important voice has just burst onto the YA scene. I am definitely an insta-fan, and can’t wait to read what she writes next.
Visit Jennifer Brown's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Brown & Ursula and Aragorn.

--Marshal Zeringue