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Castles In the Air

It's no mystery (just like its plot) that Erin enjoyed The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson.

Castles In the Air

BOOK REPORT for The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
Talky Talk: Thoreaucious!
Bonus Factors: Battlestar Galactica, Walden
Relationship Status: 15-Yr-Old Best Friends

The Deal:

Jenna Fox wakes up. She is unsure in her limbs, like a new-born colt just learning to walk. Her center of gravity is off. Her skin is luminous; her hair is gold. Jenna Fox is perfect. But Jenna Fox barely remembers her own name.

Her mother says, "there was an accident. You were in a coma. You'll get better." But she won't let her go to school, won't let her make friends outside of the house. Jenna's grandmother barely looks at her. Jenna's father lives somewhere else and barely comes home.

With the help of a crusty old neighbor, shelves of videotape shot by her adoring parents, and friends at the school she is finally allowed to attend, Jenna starts a voyage of self-discovery. She begins to find answers to the questions that plague her: why don't I remember my life? Why am I two inches shorter than I used to be? Who am I?

BFF Charm: Yay!

Oh, Jenna Fox, I feel for you. Your parents smother you with attention but refuse to give you answers, your grandmother refers to you as "it" and you are spinning your wheels at the LAMEST school ever, in which people learn how to plant seeds. (Although since I have the blackest of black thumbs, that school would probably serve me well.)

Jenna struggles against her parents' expection of her perfection and her own existential crisis. She is every 16 year old girl come to life, except for the "life" part.

Swoonworthy Scale: 0

That's right! A book without romance! Well, there's a slight intrigue with two of the students at California's School For the Weird, Dane and Ethan, but it doesn't go much further than that. And I admit that my heart had a few palpatations for Luke, Jenna's former sorta-fella, but it becomes clear that a relationship with Luke would be, um, impossible. Really this book is about a girl's self-discovery, without the aid or distraction of romance, and I loved it for that alone.

Talky Talk: Thoreaucious!

Jenna and her mother and grandmother live in a house in a secluded section of the woods, near a pond. Um, sound familier? Yeah, basically they live on the West Coast version of Walden Pond. Thoreau quotes pepper the novel (Jenna remembers all of Walden by heart, but doesn't remember reading it) and the themes of Walden, isolation, self-discovery, awareness of what it takes to be human, are all present in The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Bonus Factor: Battlestar Galactica

You guys, if Jenna Fox's dad has his way, CYLONS WILL SOON BE AMONG US.

Bonus Factor: Walden

Like I said, Walden plays a big part in The Adoration of Jenna Fox. And guys, I LOVE Walden. I remember reading it for the first time, the feel of the pages between my thumbs, how much I longed to live in seclusion in a wintery Concord, thinking deep thoughts about the tomatoes I was eating, or whatever. (I have the same dreams when listening to Bon Iver's first album, For Emma Forever Ago.) Thank God I don't have a lot of disaffected rage for my country, or I'd end up growinga beard and mailing letter bombs to people.

Casting Call:

Katie Cassidy as Jenna Fox

Katie Cassidy! Is not a good actor! But she is blonde and beautiful! And I enjoyed seeing her run around the (beautifully shot, crappily written) island in last year's Harper Island. So.

Relationship Status: 15-Yr-Old Best Friends

Part of the appeal of Jenna Fox, one would assume, is the mystery aspect. Not so much for me. An anecdote:

"Page 17," I called out to my boyfriend, who was busy hunched over the laptop, checking out the soccer (I refuse to call it football) scores. I could have announced that I was knocked up, for all the reaction I received.

"'s nice, darling," he replied, furiously Ctrl+Fing the BBC's Soccer Gossip Website (did you know there was such a thing?)to find any mention of "Arsenal," or "Gunners."

I waited until he was done. "Page 17," I repeated.

"What about it?"

"That's the page in which I realized the entire plot of this book."

And, from page 18 on to the end, the book did not surprise me once. Every plot twist, turn and development was less the announcement of a stranger's arrival, but rather the return of the spouse who went out for milk. "Ah, you're here. What took you so long?"

That said, although the intricate plot development was lost on me, I still enjoyed the heck out of this book. It bundled up sci-fi, existentialism and ethical quandries in a neat, pleasurable read. I can totally see myself being 15 year old BFFs with this book! We'd ponder what our lives really mean and feel superior to our parents, whilst eating jelly beans and watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. We would feel comfortable being existential assholes, as only teenagers can be, because adults are too busy paying the bills and working for a living to worry about what it all means. And then we'd talk about why Jenna's parents are so freaking weird.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
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