professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Coe Booth scores with Kendra

When your debut novel wins the LA Times Prize for YA Literature, how do you follow that up? If you are Coe Booth, not a problem. KENDRA is another gritty look at the life of a teen dealing with school, family, and all the usual turmoil. Kendra lives with her Nana while her mother Renee is finishing up work on her doctorate. Kendra longs for the day her mother will return from college and the two of them will move out and become mother and daughter. However, when her mother graduates and accepts a job at City College, she also decides to move into her own apartment with no plans for Kendra to join her. Rejection is not something Kendra can deal with, especially when she is unsure of her relationship with Nashawn. Is it just a physical thing? Is he playing her? And then there is Adonna, Kendra's friend who is enamored of said Nashawn.

Kendra is as multi-layered as her predecessor, Tyrell. She is a talented young woman who is growing into a woman without much of a role model. Renee is too self-possessed and absorbed; Nana is more concerned that Kendra stay away from boys. Adonna is only interested in herself. Who is there to help Kendra? There are no easy answers here for Kendra or any of the other fully fleshed characters. Kendra has to struggle with adolescence, has to make mistakes, has to ask for help, has to succeed occasionally. In her all-too-real world, Kendra has to learn how to move on and face the next challenge.
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