Jenna’s Truth is very short but is no less powerful for that. A punchy, fast paced read it takes you through a week in the life of teenager Jenna, who, unfortunately for her, finds herself on the radar of the popular girl. This girl then sets out to destroy Jenna, setting her up in a compromising photo which finds its way onto social media, spreading malicious and life-destroying rumours that take Jenna to the bottom of a deep, dark hole from which she can see no way out. Alone, isolated, unable to talk to anyone, Jenna sinks deeper into despair, eventually deciding there is no way out of her situation but to take her own life.
I know the author based the story on real events, and it is a sad fact of our world that almost a week doesn’t go by without the news of another teen suicide due to bullying and peer pressure. It is shocking to think our children are seeing no other way out because their misery is so all encompassing, they really believe it will never change, will never end.
As adults we cannot understand why they don’t come forward, speak out, inform on their tormentors, yet as someone who endured four long years of extreme physical, mental, emotional and psychological bullying whilst at middle school, I know how gradually and insidiously it can creep into your soul, how the bullies seem to know instinctively exactly what to say to wound the most, how to terrify you into lip-locked silence.
I found Jenna’s Truth poignant, the wounds from my own experiences throbbing in sympathy as I read it. Perhaps the book could have been a little longer, for whilst it is shocking what happened to Jenna, in terms of time it was over an incredibly short period. I would, perhaps, have liked the author to explore the effects that systemic, long term bullying has on someone. However, that viewpoint in no way detracts from the impact of the book and from its importance.
More, so much more, needs to be done to halt the bullying that goes on each and every day in our schools. Of course, with the the internet, bullies now have even more inventive and vindictive ways to get at their victims, to follow them into their homes, their bedrooms, their private space. There has to be a zero tolerance level of bullying, any bullying. As a mum of a teenage daughter, my heart worries when she comes home upset because of the snide bitchiness of the queen bees and the populars, wanting to help, not knowing how to reassure her that it’s not her.
No one knows how bullies pick their victims -is the child slightly different from the others? Sometimes it’s something as simple as a physical difference, a stutter, a limp, big ears, buck teeth – but sometimes there is no reason, a child is singled out – as I was – and their life is then turned inside out, their self-confidence undermined until it collapses. I remember once, many years later, attempting to talk of my experiences and being told to “get over it”. Part of you never gets over it though, it remains with you always, not as scars but as scar tissue, ready to bleed at any moment.
This is a very long review for what is ultimately a very short book, but the message it contains is huge and I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface. For any parent concerned about their child, read this book and others like it, watch for the signs, nip it in the bud and don’t be afraid to push your child for answers or to contact the school.
This review was posted on Amazon