Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

All Enchanted Jones wants to do is sing. She’s one of Parkwood High School’s only Black students and a member of the swim team. One afternoon, she tricks her mom into taking her to a singing competition audition and before its Enchanted’s turn, R&B superstar Korey Fields arrives. Her audition doesn’t go as planned, but Korey is taken by her and then she can’t believe her luck – he invites her to go on tour with him and record an album.

Her parents let her go when Korey promises Enchanted will keep up with her schoolwork and have an adult chaperone at all times. The only adult with Enchanted at all times is Korey though, and his behavior toward her worsens by the days, hours, minutes. She spirals into a dark state and when someone finally asks her if she needs help, Enchanted says yes. She’s intercepted and taken home, but media breaks the story and everyone knows. When her mom takes her to file charges, the police aren’t easily convinced. They scrutinize the allegations and accuse her of being mentally unstable.

When Korey is killed, all signs point to Enchanted. Rabid fans have it out for her and the police are preparing to charge her for the murder. In a desperate attempt to clear her name, she finds evidence revealing the true perpetrator. Enchanted is able to return to her normal life, but will she ever feel normal again?

Grown illustrates a system of white supremacy where Black women are untrustworthy and in the wrong. 17-year-old Enchanted is manipulated into believing Korey loves her, taken advantage of and brutally abused. But it’s her fault, right? She wanted to be a star and stayed with Korey willingly. It’s not breaking news that female victims’ accusations are frequently dismissed, but Black women are particularly subjected to this. They’re portrayed as instigators or willing participants, not actual victims.

Loosely inspired by R. Kelly, Korey uses his power and money to keep Enchanted a prisoner. He’s a pro at threatening or charming those around him into believing nothing is wrong, that Enchanted wants to be with him. Teenagers long for the day when they’re “adults” (I was a far cry from an adult when I was 18), desperate to grow up as fast as possible. Korey used this to his advantage and fed on Enchanted’s dreams. As a grown man, he knew better and is the one at fault, but everyone loves him and refuses to see his true nature. Law enforcement included – instead of believing Enchanted’s story, they question her and find a way to discredit her. This too is nothing new and happens every day.

In the wake of #MeToo and the bravery of women who’ve shared their stories, it seems tides may be moving in the right direction but we can never stop calling out harmful and manipulative individuals.

My review: 4 stars

Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Unsplash

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