Jenny and Tom
Iíll admit that the first time I read The Forbidden Game I wasnít all that impressed with Tom Locke and thus with his relationship with Jenny Thornton. It wasnít until Iíd gone back and reread the trilogy a few times that I began to better understand this relationship. One of the reasons I believe it is so hard to grasp the first time is simply that we donít see much interaction between the two, and when we do the circumstances cause it to be strained. We see much more interaction between Jenny and Julian and thus there are a number of readers who claim that those are the two that belong together. Well, Iím not going to go into an essay on exactly why Jenny and Julian couldnít be together because that would take us away from the topic of this section, why Jenny and Tom should be together.
Jenny Thornton and Tom Locke had their first kiss in second grade ďbehind the hibiscus bushes.Ē Theyíve been together ever since and this is the first key to their relationship: Comfort. Jenny states this more than once throughout The Forbidden Game. In fact, it seems to be mentioned anytime that she thinks of Tom. Tom makes her feel safe, comfortable. This was the first reason that hit me for them staying together, especially after all of the excitement with Julian and the Shadow World. Safe and familiar would look really good to Jenny after that.
Now, when The Forbidden Game trilogy begins it seems that Tom takes his relationship with Jenny for granted. Heís a bit arrogant as well. Jenny didnít seem to notice it before, probably because sheíd never thought about it. It was the only relationship sheíd ever had and thus she had nothing to compare it to. She begins to realize it as the books go on. She also begins to realize her independence and this causes a sudden difficulty in her relationship with Tom. Jenny has always looked to him for safety. Now he canít help her. In fact, itís she who must help him. Thereís obvious confusion here. She doesnít know how to work things out and Tom thinks she no longer needs him. This is actually a good thing because it causes Tom to take another look at Jenny and to learn not to take her for granted. We have to depend on Jennyís perceptions of things when she seeís Tom, but in the end of The Chase she pronounces them equals. Suddenly youíve got a new sense of appreciation and respect added to the familiarity of their relationship.
In book three, The Kill, we donít see Tom much so we can only guess at many of the feelings heís having. Jenny is distracted with a sudden realization that Julian is more complicated and multifaceted than she thought. Thus, thereís not a lot said about her and Tomís relationship. In the end though, when Tom helps Jenny to bring Julian back from the Shadow World and when he notices Jenny wearing Julianís ring and doesnít say anything about it, you can tell that Tom has changed. You can now add understanding to the list of things they share for though Jenny tried to understand Tom throughout the books, itís not until this scene that we realize that Tom is truly trying to understand her. And this is the other key, that both of them are willing to put in the effort it takes to deal with all of these new sides to their relationship and to adapt to itís changes. This says that something within each of them knows that itís worth it.
So there you have it, the many sides to Jenny and Tomís relationship. Itís a somewhat complicated relationship based on familiarity and safety, respect and appreciation, and a willingness to put in effort and try to understand one another. Actually, when you think about it, Julian and his games are probably the greatest things to have ever happened to this relationship.
The Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J. Smith
Reflections on LJ Smith