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November 27, 2021

A New Coming of Age Duology From Marjorie Jackson

by MK French

Debut author Marjorie Jackson has a new young adult coming of age duology focused on friendship. Both books are now available.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Being is Better by Marjorie Jackson

Being is Better
October 2021; Emery Press Books; 978-1736429501
ebook, print (314 pages); coming of age

Fourteen-year-old Amber has dealt with epilepsy and has no friends. She still trudges through every day, until she meets Missy, whose father uprooted the family after her brother's death in Afghanistan, only to abandon them. Both are lonely and struggle with being teenage girls without friends.

Amber was inspired by the author's own daughter, and there are facts about epilepsy and how to care for seizures at the back of the book. Amber and Missy don't meet right away, so we get a chance to see their everyday lives. Amber has seizures medications can't control, weakness, and memory loss. She can't relate well to others; we later find out that prior friends tried inviting her places, but she wasn't always able to make it. She hated the fact that she wound up ditching them, and ultimately gave up. Missy was forced to see a therapist, who she didn't connect to and actually lied to. Then came drama club and the popular girls who bought into the persona she put forth. This didn't make either of them happy, and when Missy reached out first to become friends, they slowly got to know each other and who they were underneath the quiet facade they presented in middle school.

It's hard being a teenager, let alone one with issues. Invisible illnesses, whether it's epilepsy or grief, take their toll and make it harder to connect with others. These are kind girls with a lot of big things on their minds, and they carry this weight throughout the entire novel. Finding each other and becoming friends doesn't automatically change the circumstances of their pains, but having that support makes it easier to cope. Friendship lightens the load and gives them hope for the future, as well as someone else to care for and fight for. This is a great book for middle schoolers and one that any kid will connect with.

Buy Being is Better at Amazon

Beyond Invisible by Marjorie Jackson

Beyond Invisible
November 2021; Emery Press Books; 978-1736429525
ebook, print (314 pages); coming of age

Amber and Missy enter high school, planning to solve the mystery behind Missy’s brother Frankie’s Army enlistment and the cause of his death. Missy also must deal with her resentment with her father, as well as struggling to accept his new girlfriend. The friendship between Amber and Missy is still relatively new, so will it survive misunderstandings?

Beyond Invisible is the sequel to Being is Better, a novel outlining Amber dealing with epilepsy and Missy dealing with grief over her brother's death, her mother's depression, and her father's near abandonment after her parents' divorce. Both girls felt isolated because of their problems, and it was Missy trying to make a new friend that brought them together. Her resentment with her father is a palpable thing, leading her to snap at him with each of his many missteps when he tries to build a relationship with her and introduce her to his new girlfriend Mona. Amber is brought along to mitigate Missy's anger, and she really does help. Amber has a lot of experience with patience and guides Missy through a more mature way of reacting to Mona.

I appreciated seeing their friendship, and that they still see the best in each other. Though Amber can be uncomfortable around the awkwardness of Missy's family and past, she remained with Missy through those sticky emotions and didn't once make Missy feel bad about having them. That's such a valuable and important aspect of friendship, I enjoyed seeing this modeled for readers to pick up on. They check in with each other and respect emotional boundaries when there are those important conversations, and still joke around and get silly with each other, too. They're teenagers, after all, and there's still a pull toward the childish at times. Kids can't be serious all the time!

It isn't until the second half of the book that we start to get an inkling about Frankie's discovery, and it really is the stuff of soap operas. The girls take a very mature approach to it, and in fact, are more mature than Missy's father. Without spoiling anything, we do get a soap opera ending in the best possible sense. This book is a great follow-up to the first, with a look into the future that shows how well things go with communication, love, and friendship.

Buy Beyond Invisible at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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