Book Review By: Chardae D. Glover
Growing Pains: Kendra Diaries is a good read for the teenage girl or boy no matter what race or origin. It provides a positive outlook on how being motivated and determined can set the pace for your life.
Kendra Foster is a thirteen year old girl, growing up in the 1980s era of New Orleans, Louisiana, meanwhile going through several internal developmental transitions and dealing with financial and domestic challenges at home. The book is written in first person narration, and immediately gives insight to the emotional challenge Kendra is facing. Her parents are fighting again for the thousandth time, but it is she and her little sister who are inflicted with mental wounds and emotional bruises. Throughout the novel Kendra also deals with the up and downs of life as she develops and deals with her first crush, tries out for the cheering squad, and prepares herself for the bigtransition into the high school.
Although this book is an easy read, there is a deprivation in emotional reality that keeps the reader from fully connecting to the protagonist Kendra Foster. Kendra deals with the common theme of family discard amongst many households; her parents are arguing relentlessly and she has to deal with the emotional stress of her family falling apart. From the first chapter to the last chapter, K.P. Smith fails to create a realistic emotional response to terrible things happening around her. When her parents’ marriage fails and her father leaves the family, Kendra’s response gives the impression that she has accepted it and moved on, which is uncommon in reality and far too mature for the typical thirteen year old girl. I would have liked to have seen the emotional aspect of Kendra’s character be more creative and developed, which I feel would have given a realistic approach to what so many young girls and boys are dealing with in present times especially being that her growing pains are emotional and not physical.
Nevertheless, the common themes of determination and perseverance provide and optimistic view for future young readers. I would recommend this coming of age novel for girls and boys ages ten and up, as I believe the growing pains Kendra is encountering are relatable to those of modern adolescence today.