N.L King, Jenna’s Truth, Serenity Press, August 2018, 98 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780648212768
Many books have tackled the contemporary issue of bullying, and this story is another one, aimed at the teen market. West Australian author N. L. King has written a straightforward plot about Jenna Wilson, whose life is altered by one humiliating event.
Jenna wants to be accepted by the popular crowd at school. A weekend party seems like an opportunity to achieve popularity, but it all goes horribly wrong. The story is not sugar-coated. The narrative is straightforward and clearly written in first person. The cruelty of Jenna’s peers is unrelenting.
A teacher intervenes at the crisis point of this sad story of cyber-bullying, teen drinking, sex and attempted suicide to bring the despairing protagonist to the hope of a positive future.
Some layering of subplot and deeper character development might have lifted this book from a conveyor of a message to a more satisfying reading experience. However, the accessible language and the brevity of this story may well work in its favour, and allow the serious message to reach some teens for whom a longer novel would be too daunting.
Teaching notes and discussion questions are provided.
Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke