A Jewish girl struggles to accept her cerebral palsy and advocate for herself.
Sixteen-year-old Jenna Cohen feels different from other girls. Her CP saddles her with spasticity, seizures, and speech problems, and she relies on mobility aids ranging from elbow crutches to a motorized wheelchair. Her well-meaning parents make all of her medical decisions, subjecting her to a series of surgeries and ineffective treatments. But when Jenna discovers that her CP was caused by medical malfeasance, she enlists her lawyer uncle to fight for medical emancipation. When she’s not dwelling on her doctor’s mistake or hanging with her gay best friend, Ben, Jenna’s living an imaginary life as her beautiful, confident, nondisabled alter ego, Jennifer. In Jennifer’s persona, she catfishes Julian, her sweet, dyslexic childhood crush, kindling a bantering text-message romance dotted with described emojis—but soon, pretending isn’t enough. Unfortunately, Julian’s one-dimensional portrayal weakens the romantic tension. Jenna’s close, conflicted relationship with her parents and fierce bond with her siblings are believable, as is her desire for a say in her treatment; however, a late twist is jarringly implausible. Though Jenna’s curiosity about what might have been if not for her doctor’s error is understandable, her nearly relentless self-pity risks alienating readers long before her rather abrupt realization that “[her] real life has far exceeded [her] fantasy one.” All characters appear to be white.
Well-intentioned but unsatisfying. (Romance. 13-16)