by Coe BoothSyndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780439925365]
School Library Journal
Starred Review. Gr 9 Up—Growing up with her grandmother in Bronxwood, 14-year-old Kendra Williamson is waiting for Renée, her 28-year-old mom, to finish school so they can get their own place. Kendra can't help but feel abandoned when her mother gets her PhD at Princeton and then moves to a studio apartment in Harlem, once again leaving her daughter behind. When her grandmother's restrictive rules, her crush's physical attention, and her friend's self-absorption become overwhelming, Kendra gets her chance to live with her mother and learn whether Renée can be a true parent. Booth has a talent for emotional honesty. When Kendra confronts her mother about her previous choices and learns that, if she could change the past, she would not keep Kendra, the feelings of abandonment and betrayal radiate from the page. The convoluted but redeeming friendship between Kendra and her best friend and aunt, Adonna, resonates with heartbreak and honesty. Teens will appreciate Kendra's internal justification monologues, especially in relation to her Nana; Booth balances that self-examination with street fights to further engage her audience. Adults act as fully realized characters, serving as disciplinarians and mentors, not moralizing preachers. Kendra's quick acquiescence to anal sex seems to be too fast, though this and all other sex scenes are neither graphic nor gratuitous. From Bronx blocks to Harlem hangouts, Booth delivers dynamic characters and an engaging story.—Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
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