Jenna’s Truth by Nadia L King
There is so much to recommend Jenna’s Truth by Nadia L King. It concerns bullying and is pitched at the Young Adult market but it’s reach is much broader. Indeed it should be read by parents, teachers, families, as it tackles the issue in a clever way. It's told through the POV of a bullied teen, Jenna. If I had a magic wand I would distribute this book to every public library and high school in Australia.
The heroine is the eponymous Jenna. The book charts her life from pre-bullying through the incidents and beyond. Jenna’s voice is spot on and that of a lively, clever, observant teen, desperate to be in the ‘cool gang’ (who are of course, as normally the case, anything but cool).
King uses clever strategies to appeal and get through to her teen audience comparing incidents to scenes from CSI and speaking in the teen shorthand of products and consumables, fast fashion chains and the like. The characters are well drawn, especially Jenna and Tina (the bully). The supporting characters all work, especially the teacher, Ms Phillips.
The key scenes are very well done and filled with drama, compassion (and horror for me to read as a mother of girls – one teen and one tween). The party and pool scenes were very effective and moving. I particularly liked both the dual use of swimming as both a meditation and drama. The threading of The Life of Pi through the book worked effectively as both a subject of school assessment textually and it’s meaning and debates as Jenna’s challenges grew.
If I had a magic wand I would distribute this book to every public library and high school in Australia.
Jenna's Truth has been so cleverly and compassionately thought out from the trigger warning, dedication, the story, help lines, the end notes designed for the national curriculum for teachers for year 9 and 10 English, and cyber bullying helplines. The educational resource notes with questions and focus for teachers and students encourage bullying to be spoken about in a frank and truthful matter and in that public peer space may even make bullies change their ways. The ‘cool gang’ is, after all, only viable if it has slavish followers. If educated these followers will disappear and become decent teens too.
The book is designed to appeal to as many people as possible and is dyslexic friendly and printed in a large, bold, relaxed font. The length of it also is perfect. As a novella it is long enough for teens to delve deeply, but not too long as to have them lingering too much in a disturbing place. It can be easily read in a single sitting.
King dedicates her book movingly to Amanda Todd and her legacy. Amanda ‘and others like her, lost to suicide and to the young people of today facing these challenges right now, in the hope that together we can make the world a better, kinder, friendlier place.’
King has achieved that goal with Jenna's Truth and I for one will be encouraging my daughters school's to stock this book. To use it as the valuable resource it is to both help teens realise they can get help; and that bullying is insidious and needs to be called out. Thank you Nadia L King for writing this important book for teens. The best writing can change lives and your book will. Kudos