Jessica N. Watkins wrote Jane Doe during her freshmen year of high school and after giving birth to her son. She was fifteen years old. She wrote Jane Doe as a heart wrenching reflection of life through the eyes of the urban teenager.
Jane Doe is set in the “Windy City” during the year 1996. The main characters, Lyric Caldwell, Latrice Anderson, and Victoria Renee Brown, allow you into their adolescent world of fitting in, insecurity, boys, heart break, and love. Entering their first year of high school at Kraton High, Lyric, Latrice, and Victoria find themselves battling with common factors of the urban environment; teenage pregnancy, single-parent homes, and peer pressure.
Victoria was forced to move in with her estranged father after the death of her mother. Forced to work and fend for herself, “Vic” has grown a thick skin against her father’s verbal and physical abuse, and strangers have to climb the wall that she has built around her heart. Lyric has a hard time helping her best friend break down this wall as she is forced to handle matters of her own; refereeing a game of tug of war between her older boyfriend, Russell, and her virginity. With substance abusive parents, Lyric often times prefers to lean on the maturity of her other best friend, Latrice, for counsel. However, Latrice is dealing with problems of her own when she realizes that she is possibly pregnant by the neighborhood high school dropout, Taij. Now she is faced with the unfeasible task of explaining to her demanding and strict mother that she has not only been sneaking and having sex with the boyfriend that she was not supposed to have, but also may possibly become what her mother has feared the most; a statistic.
Through this novel, Watkins reveals the genuine thoughts and motivations of the urban teenager. Jane Doe is geared toward the urban adolescent, but is attention seeking enough for any adult by illustrating the rebellious teenager living “ghetto fabulous” with consequence, and highlights the unexpected heroes of our urban communities. Jane Doe reaches out to that insecure and yearning teen, and illustrates the consequences of refusing to look beyond the small window of fitting in.
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