Kendra Foster is a normal thirteen year old living in New Orleans in 1985. She is going through some pretty normal teenage stuff: she is in the last year of middle school, is preparing herself for this years cheerleading tryouts after the humiliating events of trying out 2 years ago, and is hoping she might get noticed by the cutest guy in the class, Jamie.
But in addition to that, she has other issues to content with. Her mom and dad are fighting. All the time. Mainly about money: her dad doesn’t make much meaning that things are tight at home. Her family are reliant on handouts from her maternal grandparents which leads to resentment between all involved. The financial problems could impact Kendra in her choice of high school. Without a scholarship, they won’t be able to afford for her to attend The Academy, the best high school in the area. Her mom has been given offered a promotion, but Kendra’s dad doesn’t want her to take it in what appears to be a mix of guilt and male pride. Tensions at home are running high and Kendra is aware that she doesn’t have all the information.
There was a lot I liked about this book. Kendra’s voice is distinctive and the writing style is easy and fun to read. There weren’t many times I felt pulled out of the moment, although when that did happen it was often because of repetition in the text. There was also occasionally too much tell and not enough show. However, I put this down to the fact it is the diary of a thirteen year old and told in the first person. Some of the writing was in italics which I didn’t understand the need for and felt it didn’t add much to the general style. I was also in two minds about the prologue which Initially I felt it was unnecessary. But this is a young adult book and eventually I thought that as a teenager I would probably need to have a reason to listen to someone born in the 70’s: something to convince me that problems teenagers go through today aren’t isolated to this generation. I read my copy in a kindle friendly format and found that at the start of a chapter, the first letter of each word was on a separate line from the rest of the word. This was distracting, but hopefully this was just in my copy.
The marital problems of Kendra’s parents are well written and show the effect both on Kendra and her younger sister Patrice. Kendra is self centred at times, like any thirteen year old is, but she shows growth during the story. This book would make a good read for any young adult who has experienced divorce, but I think it would be enjoyed by teenagers in general.