It’s My Life

Sourcebooks/Fire. Jan. 2020. 336p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781492694526.
Gr 8 Up–High school junior Jenna had always assumed she was born with cerebral palsy. Upon discovering that her birthing OB/GYN was sued for medical malfeasance, and that her CP was caused by a complication during her birth, she is now rethinking her whole life. Always driven and a high achiever, Jenna drops out of her AP classes and wants to take more control over her health, even if it means suing her parents for medical emancipation. Her romantic life heats up when childhood crush Julian moves back into town. Keeping her identity hidden, Jenna starts to flirtatiously text with Julian on the premise of helping him adapt to the new school and with his homework. This texting relationship carries much of the book, and though the prose is quippy and fun, teen readers might be put off with the premise and the believability that Julian wouldn’t easily be able to figure out who is texting him. The plot is at times choppy, but the book benefits from the crisp language and humor, and strong family relationships. Effort is made to make Jenna more than her disability, but the all-consuming obsession with a boy she’s liked since kindergarten makes her come across as one-dimensional. Jenna’s disability is centered in the story, and there is some positive portrayal, but there are still some ableist moments such as a “differently abled” club mentioned.
VERDICT There is a gap in books with CP representation, and even with its pitfalls, this addition has its merits.

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