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The Adoration of Jenna Fox    by Mary E. Pearson order for
Adoration of Jenna Fox
by Mary E. Pearson
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2008 (2008)

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Jenna Fox grows up in Boston as the adored daughter of a world renowned scientist. At sixteen she has an almost fatal accident. When she wakes up in California eighteen months later, she must relearn all the things she learned as a child. She does this in record time, but holes in her memory keep her from remembering her childhood. Other less personal things return to her in detail. She is given discs of her growing-up years to watch.

Jenna doesn't understand the move to California. Her father still works in Boston so he is away for much of the time; her mother closed her successful home restoration business; and her grandmother left her job as chief of internal medicine at Boston University Hospital. Her mother now keeps busy restoring the earthquake damaged house they've just moved into, while her grandmother has turned her interest to plants and is rebuilding the greenhouse there.

Of all her lost memories, not remembering her friends concerns Jenna the most. Surely she had friends. There are no letters or cards and no one calls. Jenna's life is full of rules that are supposed to be for her own good. If she steps out of line, she is sent to her room like a five-year-old. Her request to go to school is met with tribulation by her mother and distain by her grandmother. When she prevails, she is put into a small charter school where each of the students is trying to put their own destroyed life together again.

Jenna doesn't know the extent of her own tragedy, and as her memories return, she has more questions than answers. Her family's explanations are vague and unhelpful. Their worry is obvious. That's understandable. She almost died, but she didn't and she wants to live a normal life now. When she pushes to learn the truth of her past she begins to understand. Her very existence could put not only her family but all of her father's colleagues in danger.

Jenna's story begins after the last polar bear died, after a hurricane takes out the southern part of California, and at a time when medical miracles are held at bay by a government policing agency. This clever, thought-provoking science-fiction novel is set in the not too distant future and is based on events that are making news daily. When does life end and what makes someone human?

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