Jaded by Ela Lee

Jaded, Ela Lee's debut novel, delves into themes of misogyny, consent, and racism with finesse. 

Jaded by Ela Lee

Jade achieves the success she aspired to – a thriving career as a lawyer, a devoted daughter, a cherished girlfriend, and a loyal friend. However, everything changes one night after a work event when she experiences a harrowing attack. Struggling to come to terms with the trauma, Jade is trapped between unsupportive parents, a betrayed boyfriend, and a job demanding her silence. The carefully constructed world Jade built begins to unravel. The crumbled facade of her life unveils an opportunity for rebirth, as Jade strives to rebuild a sense of identity and purpose beyond the constraints of societal expectations.

Ela Lee’s writing style is truly exceptional. Jade emerges as an immediately captivating narrator, navigating her mid-twenties while building a career at a prestigious City law firm. While not overtly 'literary' in its style or form, the novel exudes emotional maturity and a compelling authenticity. The recounting of Jade's sexual assault as an almost out-of-body experience, intensifies the chilling impact of the trauma. The narrative masterfully delves into the internal struggles she faces, grappling with emotions like guilt and shame and examining the repercussions on her relationships and professional life. Moreover, the exploration of the 'believability' of sexual assault and the consideration of reporting versus burying it adds another layer to the narrative, transforming it into a thought-provoking commentary on both individual and systemic challenges.

Additionally, it is worth noting the exceptional portrayal of supporting characters, particularly Jade's parents. Jade's cultural identity, being the daughter of a Turkish father and a Korean mother, adds an interesting perspective to the narrative, especially as Lee shares the same ethnicity herself. The Turkish-Korean dynamic also becomes a lens through which Lee delves into issues of racism, classism, and gender bias. This exploration extends beyond Jade's workplace, seeping into her relationship with Kit, her affluent white boyfriend. Lee's narrative brings to light the complicit ways many individuals perpetuate these biases, offering a sharp commentary on society. 

In its entirety, Jaded stands out as a noteworthy debut—marked by intelligent and skillful writing.


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