Monday, July 24, 2023

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with a review of Jett Jamison and the Secret Storm by Kimberly Behre Kenna

Jett Jamison and the Secret Storm by Kimberly Behre Kenna
Publisher:  Black Rose Writing
Format:  Paperback
Number of pages: 174 pages
Publishing:   August 3rd, 2023
Source:  Book Forward

Opening Lines: "I stand on tiptoe and reach way up past the everyday graffiti, past the proclamations about who loves who and cartoon sketches of the most unpopular teachers."

At the beginning of the story Jett is hiding out in a restroom at school making a new hashmark on the bathroom door.  A tally that represents each day she's escaped into the silence of the restroom and given herself a chance to reset, to be brave.  Jett experiences a lot of anxiety and has difficulty in situations with a lot of noise.  Certain smells and even a jet flying overhead cause her senses to go into overload.  The worst are the voices in her head.  During these times it's all she can do but escape to a place of solitude.  Her home life is no different from school, with twin brothers and parents who believe in flexibility, while Jett likes things to be organized, to follow a list and a schedule.  

Jett's second sanctuary is the library, but now that some rowdy high school girls have started playing chess there, her quiet has been disrupted again.  Soon Jett finds herself in a church garden, where she meets a nun, Sister Gia.  Jett starts to volunteer and the two begin to chat.  The more that Jett gets to know Sister Gia, the more she finds herself opening up to the sister about her problems and the voices that she's been hearing.  Sister Gia suggests a book to Jett that might help her and as luck would have it there is a single copy at the local library.  Unfortunately, the copy is so marked up that she can hardly figure out what the story is about and why Sister Gia thought this specific book would be of help to her in the first place.  And mysteriously someone takes the book she was looking at before she even has the chance to check it out.

Jett begins to research the book and finds that many people in town don't approve of it, but who would go to such great lengths as to steal the book?  As Jett begins to dig for answers, she gets drawn into a censorship battle with a local radio host and unwittingly unmasks the author of the book.  Embolden by this new found information, Jett plans to face her fears and reveal the secret that she's been hiding inside.

 From the author of Artemis Sparkle and the Sound Seekers Brigade comes the second book in the Brave Girls collection.  And oh, what a powerful story this is.  It tackles such tough subjects as censorship, the banning of books and the trauma experienced following a sexual assault.   I've come to enjoy all of Kenna's books in this series, she writes stories to embolden girls and to let them know that they're not alone.  In Jett Jamison and the Secret Storm, she illustrates the changes that can happen when you speak freely and share your thoughts with others.  For in her conversations with Sister Gia, Jett becomes aware of the memories that she's been suppressing for so long and is finally able to confront them.  I just love stories like this that can show the reader that they are not alone.  That there can be a path to recovery.  I also really enjoyed that the book included a blank page in the back for the reader to share their own story, to essentially add to the book.  Also including in the author's note that she too had experienced the same trauma as Jett and how she was so encouraging of others to seek out help by offering resources of places to contact.  Overall, a very powerful story delicately presented, I highly recommend it for middle grade readers.  

I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE


  1. I'm reading this one now so thanks for not providing any spoilers. It's such an impactful story and one that should help young readers who might be experiencing similar trauma as Jett. Thanks for being a part of MMGM this week.

  2. I'm glad to see a lower page count on this novel. My daughter will only read books less than 200 pages right now. Thanks for letting us know about this engaging plot. I'll be looking for a copy.

  3. This sounds like a powerful read. I hadn't heard of it before- so thank you for sharing. It sounds like a book that will help kids who are experiencing something similar know that they aren't alone. :)

  4. This sounds like such an impactful read—sexual assault is definitely a topic rarely discussed in MG books, but it's something kids of that age might face or otherwise be thinking about, so I'm sure this book will touch readers. And the topic of book censorship is a timely one too! Thanks so much for the thoughtful review, Brenda, and have a great week!

  5. Great review, Brenda. I too wish that a book like this wouldn't be necessary...unfortunately, it is.

  6. It's a heavy topic for middle grade but it sounds like it's really well done (and such an evil thing to happen to anyone, especially a child). Thank you for sharing (and sorry, I don't know how I missed this post last week!)