Monday, September 28, 2020

Book Review: Grown and Disney Movies

Let's talk about Grown!

If your ideas about love come from Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, we are going to have a problem!

Grown is beautifully written. A fantastic story. But triggering AF.

Grown tells the story of Enchanted, a seventeen year old girl who has dreams of becoming the next big singing star. She has a beautiful voice and everyone knows it. Especially, Korey Fields. Twenty-eight year old R&B singer. Korey takes notice of Enchanted at a singing competition and it all goes downhill from there. Korey slowly begins to groom her, promises her the world, and takes advantage of her.

I don't want to say too much and ruin the book for you but this book had me in my feelings, and what exact feelings you might ask? Rage, anger, hurt. This book had me shook! I had to put the book down a couple of times to just stare into space and think about what I'd just read. Tiffany really pushes the boundaries and gives us an honest portrayal of an all too common situation.

There were a couple things that stood out to me though:

This use of Disney movies, characters, and Disneyland, but more specifically The Little Mermaid. To me, this theme was used in two ways: youth and silencing. It makes sense that Enchanted gravitates towards that film because she associated her life with the sea and singing. Enchanted talks a lot about how Ariel gave up her tail for legs, but what she doesn't mention much is how Ariel really gave up her voice for a man. Ariel is silenced. And there is a history of silencing girls/women in situations like this. Enchanted and all the other women who try to come forward are silenced. And no one ever believes women, especially Black women. 

We often associate Disney movies with our youth. And to me the incorporation of these Disney movies is a constant reminder of just how young Enchanted really is but also how trapped in his youth Korey is and how that has completely fucked him up. Enchanted even compares Korey to Peter Pan at one point. Although, Tiffany does a great job at not letting us forget how much older Korey is than Enchanted when she says, "he sends a selfie of him in a massive empty stadium. There's a little gray in his stubble." I honestly loved little lines like this because oftentimes when I'm reading I forget the ages of the characters and this was a great reminder that this situation is wrong. 

The crazy thing is that I get it. I get why Enchanted gravitated towards a man like this. All she wanted was to be seen. She is one of five kids, her parents are always working, she is one of like ten Black students in a predominantly white private school. She just wanted to be seen and to not feel so alone. And Korey saw her, promised her the world, and made her feel loved (by her seventeen year old standard of love). If a man tried to groom me or treated me the way Korey treated Enchanted I would tell him to fuck off! But I'm also 31 and have been through violent toxic relationships. At 17,  I don't know if I would've been so quick to tell someone who I thought "loved" me to fuck off, as a matter of fact, I wasn't. So I get it and I empathize with Enchanted and with all the women who feel like there is no way out. 

Grown is a perfect representation of the history of not believing women, especially Black women, and how as a society we're quick to question the victim instead of prosecuting the abuser. 

TW: sexual abuse, kidnapping, sexual manipulation, child abuse, addiction to opioids

I know I just gave you the trigger warnings, but I urge you to read this book!

Happy Reading!

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