Totally. Completely jealous. She’s not the kind of author you want to be like; she’s the author you want to be. Sorry to be creepy, but it’s true.
Name: Jennifer Brown
Where from: Kansas, United States of America
Prizes: Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award in 2005 and 2006 (nowhere near enough)
Books: Hate List (2009) you can read my review here, Bitter End (2011), Perfect Escape (2012), Thousand Words ( 2013)
I’ve read all 4 books mentioned above and let me tell you something: Jennifer Brown’s writing is powerful. Hate list deals with bullying and guilt, Bitter End deals with domestic violence, Perfect Escape deals with autism and Thousand Words deals with porn. But all of her books deal with girls who are good girls, innocent girls but get dragged into a lot of crazy stuff. They’re real teenage girls with all the trappings that come with it. And Jennifer’s books really help us to see that. After reading these books, these issues don’t seem so far away, You can really empathize with the girls and the tragedies that befall them. Even if you’ve judged girls like these in the past, there’s no way you can walk away from a Jennifer Brown book without empathizing and sympathizing with them.
Hate List: Valerie’s the ex-girlfriend of a boy who conducted a mass-shooting of a school. She helped him make the list of the students he shot (not that she knew that at the time) and as a result, after the shooting she’s left with a massive amount of guilt and blame. In real life, she would never be a girl I could empathize with. Probably because they would never print her story in the paper. But in this book I could understand how she felt and why she did certain things. In fact, if I was in her position I might do the same things.
Bitter End: Alex is swept off her feet by Cody, a guy whose new to her school. She can’t believe how lucky she is that he likes her and so she’s willing to overlook a lot of his faults. He gets jealous quickly but she quickly justifies that by saying that it’s natural that he dislike her spending so much time with male friends. So she spends less time with them. And when he starts hurting her and belittling her, she thinks she deserves it. This book deals with so much more than abuse. It’s about self-image as well. It’s easy for you to accept other people hurting you if you don’t think much of yourself. I think this book struck a note because, what kind of girl isn’t just a little bit self conscious? And the way Cody treated Alex was not sudden, it was kind of gradual. By the time she realized what he was doing was wrong, she was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone. Afraid of Cody but also what other people would think and ashamed because it took her so long to realize.
Thousand Words: Ashleigh’s boyfriend is about to go to college and she feels a little unsure if their relationship can last the distance. So persuaded by a friend, she takes a picture of herself naked and sends it to him. Just to keep his interest. When the inevitable breakup happens, her boyfriend in an act of petty revenge, sends out the picture to a bunch of people. This book deals with peer pressure and insecurity. After the picture goes public, Ashleigh faces a lot. Bullying, rude messages, crude words and the loss of several friends. And guilt too because her father is in danger of losing his job because of the scandal. In the end she learns: A picture is worth a thousand words but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Perfect Escape: Kendra feels that her biggest obstacle to living a normal life is her older brother, Grayson. You see, he’s autistic. That means he’s a genius but he has crazy episodes sometimes. And gets nearly all of their parent’s and teachers attention. The only way Kendra gets any attention is by being perfect but then when she gets caught cheating on an exam, all the perfection she strove to build all her life threatens to crumble. In a fit of insanity, she kidnaps her brother and takes him on a road trip with her to California where she hopes to meet her ex-best friend and Grayson’s ex-girlfriend. Along the way she hopes to cure him. But somewhere along the way she realises that things have changed and Grayson doesn’t necessarily need curing. This book deals with sibling rivalry and feelings of inadequacy. But the main focus here is on mental diseases and how it’s not just the person with the disease who suffers; it’s the people around them.
I haven’t actually read Say Something which is a novella based on Hate List,but I’ve heard it’s quite good. For the first time, Jennifer Brown’s written from a male perspective. She’s written from the point of view of David Judy, a boy who was friends with Nick and saw him go down the slippery slope that eventually ended with him shooting up the school. At several points, David considered telling someone but he didn’t and so he’s forced to live with the guilt. Besides, he’s in love with Valerie and seeing her destroyed by the shooting hurts him too.
People talked. Let them talk. Nothing I could do to stop them. They knew the thousand words, but they didn’t know the rest of the story.”
– Jennifer Brown, Thousand Words
“We all got to be winners sometimes. But what he didn’t understand was that we all had to be losers, too. Because you can’t have one without the other.”
– Jennifer Brown, Hate List
You need to pick up a Jennifer Brown book ASAP. They’re amazing and meaningful. And meaningful and amazing.
Warning: These books are highly addictive. Once you read one, you will want another (just like that mouse who wanted a cookie) and without getting another book, you’ll start suffering from withdrawal.