Archive for the ‘Jennifer Brown’ Category

TornAwaySixteen-year-old Jersey survived the tornado that hit Elizabeth, MO alone in her basement, under her stepfather Ronnie’s pool table. Her mother, Chrissy, and 5 year-old sister, Marin, were at dance class and were not as lucky. After several days Ronnie appears. Their house and belongings are destroyed. The only saved relics are Marin’s favorite purse and a ceramic cat with the number 6 on it, one of 16 anonymous birthday gifts Jersey assumes were from her father, Clay, who abandoned her at an early age. It is a complete shock when Ronnie says he is too emotional to care for her and she must move to another city to live with Clay’s extended family. They make it known that they do not want her but will take her as a family obligation. Jersey and her two teenage cousins clash immediately and Jersey is forced to leave. Instead of taking her back, Ronnie takes her to Chrissy’s parents, who Chrissy said disowned her when she married Clay.

In Torn Away, Jennifer Brown, author of Thousand Words, The Hate List and Perfect Escape describes in realistic detail the physical and emotional wreckage of storm victims. Not only has Jersey lost her home, immediate family and friends, but she is forced to live with people who do not want her or people she believes have disowned her mother and never tried to maintain contact. Along with acclimating to new families, Jersey also learns that ‘truths’ her mother told her may not have been so. Torn Away is vivid and emotional as Jersey comes to terms with her grief, new life and new knowledge.

For my review of Thousand Words, click here: https://2headstogether.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/thousand-words-by-jennifer-brown/. As you can see, Jennifer Brown does not shy away from controversial topics.

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I hate reading about something bad happening to a character I like. So, as I began to like Ashleigh Maynard, I read with trepidation, knowing that Thousand Words is about a nude photo of Ashleigh texted to her boyfriend going viral. However, Jennifer Brown ThousandWords(author of The Hate List) handles the situation well.

We hear so many warnings on the news about what you should and shouldn’t put on your social media pages. We hear about potential employers checking Facebook and its equivalents to see what’s out there on potential employees. We don’t hear quite as much about the impact on teens and their families and friends when a simple mistake, such as texting or putting on social media, compromising photos, be they nude photos or otherwise, goes viral which in this instantaneous, cell phone age will happen.

Jennifer Brown does an outrageous job in the form of high school junior, Ashleigh Maynard, who drunk at a summer party, texts a frontally nude photo of herself to her college bound boyfriend, Kaleb, who has spent more time with the ‘guys’ over the summer than with Ashleigh. The reasons for the photo going viral are important, but less so, than the impact on the characters. What we and our children don’t realize is that both Ashleigh, 16, and Kaleb, 18, can be charged with distributing child pornography.  The criminal ramifications based on the different ages are dramatically different.

Brown describes in realistic detail the emotional impact on Ashleigh, her friends to some extent and her parents, exacerbated by the fact that her father is superintendent of schools in their district. The characters are marvelous. The story rings true. The writing just adds to the realism of Ashleigh’s tale.

In  the hands of a less talented writer, this story could be mundane or sordid. However, we all know Jennifer Brown has talent and she does teens a great service by informing them of the consequences of one ‘little’ mistake. Parents and teens alike MUST read this book.

I”m not a fan of sequels, but the story of Kaleb should be told as well. Jennifer, what about a ‘companion’ piece?

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Anybody who read Jennifer Brown’s Hate List knows that she’s an excellent writer. So they’ll immediately jump on Perfect Escape, her latest YA novel and they won’t be disappointed. The book jacket gives a perfect synopsis: “Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines.”

But that’s just the story line. Perfect Escape really talks about each sibling’s feelings about themselves in relation to the other. The mechanism for this is a road trip. You know early on that Kendra, a superior student, cheated somehow during her senior year. Always feeling that she has to be the perfect child to compensate for Grayson’s “failings” (my word), she is unable to face the consequences when she is found out. Driving on autopilot, she finds herself at “The Quarry” where Grayson spends hours counting the rocks. Finding him there, she gets him into the car and, instead of heading home, starts driving, thus begins the road trip, one in which she hopes to ‘cure’ Grayson of his foibles.

During the course of the trip, Grayson and Kendra share feelings and frustrations, encounter strangers, and face disappointment. Perfect Escape is written with tenderness and love, you can tell. Readers will love brother and sister, sympathize with each and share their happiness and sadness. So, go along with them on their journey. You might learn something about yourself in the process.

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