This book received 3 stars on good reads.
Warning – Non Specific Spoilers ahead
Grow up’s depiction of teenage life in Britain was amusing, suitably crude and relatable – as a British teen myself, I felt I understood the frenzy many of the characters were stuck in. The continuous fascination and abuse of alcohol, drugs and sex, as a means for happiness, is something I think many young people can see as realistic. It’s a means of escape, regardless of the health implications (perhaps even in hope of them) that makes procrastination a lot easier to accomplish. A levels and the pressure of real life looming on the horizon are depicted in a way I felt was true to those who feel lost and unmotivated during such a crucial period.
I thoroughly enjoyed Jaspers character. Often his sensitivity and thoughtfulness was translated into him making rash decisions that I found quite funny, due to how incongruous they were with the typical approach you expect teenagers to have. You expect complete disregard and to an extent Jasper achieves this; he doesn’t care about Abbey Hall or getting Kevin in trouble, let alone his education. However, the humour comes from his genuine belief that these methods are the right way to deal with people he doesn’t particularly like. It was an exaggerated llustration of the selfishness that is being young.
One thing I wasn’t sure about was how the story would conclude; having sex with his crush, getting his step dad arrested and realising he wasn’t the father of Abbie’s baby didn’t result in any substantial consequence, initially. I really appreciated that he didn’t just gallop off into the sunset in complete ignorance.
Jasper identifies the novel he is writing as a telling of his own life and realises that all of the things he wanted to accomplish have left him ‘hollow’ and ‘unfulfilled’. I felt it was a comment on the reality of growing up. That the things you use to extinguish reality don’t cure you but make the issue harder to identify. It’s a distraction not a solution. Jasper’s reflections on the decisions he made highlight that, though subtly, his character was starting to grow as the story began to end.
I did enjoy the uneventful but sweet ending – Jasper’s kiss with Tenaya ignites hope that they’ll find some sort of way to move forward from the dark place they’re both in.
Grow Up explores the desire for more when your stuck on the precipice going into adulthood. I felt this book really did miss, due to Jaspers one track mind, many of the depth and complexities of being 17 however it was still amusing to read.
This book holds a lot less melodrama, unrealistic character tropes and angst often found in YA, often implying that their representations of teens are accurate. I think Grow Up is a little more level headed and funny in its honesty.