Friday, February 19, 2010

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2008. ISBN-10: 0805076689; ISBN-13: 978-0805076684. 272 p.

Plot Summary
Who is Jenna Fox? Jenna, 17 years old, has just come out of a year-long coma. She remembers nothing from her past life--not her name, not even if she has a best friend. Her grandmother can't stand to look at her, and the family's new house has a locked room that Jenna's not allowed to see. What happened to Jenna when she was 16? What really happened after her accident? And why will no one tell her the truth? What did their love lead her parents to do?

Critical Evaluation
This novel starts out small and moves on to explore very sophisticated, mature themes of identity and love. What defines a person's soul--their memories? Their intelligence? This novel manages to offer a fresh take on age-old philosophical debates about identity, as well as new concerns about bioethics and genetic engineering. Mary Pearson does a good job of creating Jenna as a sympathetic character dealing with issues that may be too big for her.

Reader’s Annotation
Jenna can't remember anything about her past. What happened to her after her car accident? What are her parents not telling her?

Author Information
Mary Pearson graduated with a BFA in Art from Long Beach State University and got her teaching credential from San Diego State University. As she was a second-grade teacher, her students pushed her to start writing professionally. She works full-time as a writer from her San Diego home. To date, her other books include A Room on Lorelei Street, Scribbler of Dreams, The Miles Between, and David v. God. Her website is located at and she blogs at The book's website is

In an interview conducted before the Nebula Awards, Pearson was asked how she got the idea for Jenna Fox. She replied, "two questions drove the story: First, How far would a parent go to save their child? And secondly, How far will medicine advance in another fifty years?  I asked myself both of these questions when my youngest daughter was diagnosed with cancer, but still I didn’t think they would ever turn into a story.  Years later these questions melded with an image I had of a girl looking out over water who I knew had been in some sort of accident and was recovering.  By exploring these questions through the very different circumstances and time period of Jenna Fox, I was able to achieve the distance I needed to explore these questions" (source).

Science fiction

Curriculum Ties
Philosophy and/or biology: bioethics, genetic engineering

Booktalking Ideas
What would you do if you couldn't remember anything about your past? What if you found out your parents did something illegal to save you from dying?

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 9+

Challenge Issues
Bioethics issues

I included this book because it won several awards and was nominated for a few others. Awards: Andre Norton Award Finalist (2008), Golden Kite Award (2009, honor recipient), ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2009), Locus Recommended Reading (Young Adult, 2008), School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2008).


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