Picture the scene. It’s 2.47pm on a Wednesday. I have to leave to pick my daughter up from kindy in three minutes, except I’m awash with hot silent tears. I’ve been reading a great book again…
Sometimes there are stories that talk to me, change me, teach me. ‘Jenna’s Truth’ by Nadia L King is one of them. It takes the tough issues of bullying and teen suicide, and fights for a positive outcome.
Never relax around the popular kids; they lure you in like wolves circling their prey – I just hadn’t realised yet that I was the prey. (p30)
King was inspired to write this book by the moving story of Amanda Todd. Straight after I finished reading ‘Jenna’s Truth’ I googled Amanda’s You Tube video. Cue more tears on a Wednesday afternoon. Because Amanda didn’t deserve the treatment she got. Jenna doesn’t either. The difference between these two is that Jenna is saved.
‘Jenna’s Truth’ aims to save many more.
“You don’t know it yet but there are important things you have to do with your life. You are here for a reason and you will touch people with your life. Believe me. You are important to me, to your mum and your dad, and your family and friends. Your life matters.’ (Ms Philips to Jenna, p72)
Here in Australia, suicide is the biggest killer of young people. So books like this are vital, providing teens with guidance and support. At 6,000 words, I read it in one sitting, and I feel that’s the perfect length to reach as many kids as possible.
It is a powerful short story with a strong narrative voice. Combined with Teaching Notes it makes an accessible and sensitive tool in the fight against bullying. It doesn’t over-dramatise. It doesn’t wallow. And it ends with hope, which I find so important in a book on this subject. It reminds us that we all make mistakes, and that’s okay. Bravo to King, a fellow SCBWI Australia West member!
But maybe, just maybe, don’t read this book until you know you won’t need to go out in public anytime soon. Or at least leave time for a cooling face sploosh to calm the red eyes.