Title: Growing Pains: Kendra’s Diaries
Publication date: May 25, 2011
Publisher: Doin It
Length: 268 pages
Genre: YA fiction
How would you feel if you had to put on a brave face each morning you leave the house and pretend you’re okay? If you couldn’t tell what’s going on, not even to your best friend – and at the same time, your family was falling to pieces? Yes, that’s right – that’s what Kendra has to face each day of her life.
Meet Kendra Foster. She is smack in the middle of growing up. Oh boy! Just like anyone in the “maze” of growing up, there are challenges along the way. She is facing problems at home and with her family. She thought making cheerleader would be the “best thing in the world”. But she learned quickly there are two sides to every coin. As if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, high school is quickly approaching and her dreams of attending The Academy seems more impossible with each passing day. Every time she thinks she has an answer, they change the question. But never count her out. Her story is one of determination, perseverance and strength.
All in All, Kendra’s Diaries was a good read. There were many things I really enjoyed about it and a few things I think could have been a little bit better. I like the fact that it has an optimistic message and it will definitely make you stop and think: if she can do it and move on, then why couldn’t I?
Another thing I liked about it is the fact that it’s very realistic. It could happen to anyone, which makes the characters (and the plot itself) easily relatable. Smith’s story focuses on Kendra, a 13 year old girl from New Orleans. She’s just an ordinary teenager with ordinary friends, whose biggest dreams is to get into the cheerleader team. But as her family is starting to fall apart and she can’t ignore the fact that her parents are arguing non stop anymore, she realizes that there are more important things in life than this. Kendra is a fun character who is just like any of us. She has to learn how to make decisions and how to learn from her mistakes and she faces everyday problems just like us.
What didn’t really work for me was how the author handled emotional scenes. Kendra goes through a lot during the novel (and I don’t want to spoil anything for you) but I felt like these scenes should have been more developed, more elaborate. We are given the facts – her dad has left the family, for example – but I had a hard time connecting to her emotionally. I didn’t feel her pain.. well, not as much as I should have. It’s almost as if she accepted it and moved on. No drama, no tears. Just like that. This is the main reason why the book becomes a bit predictable and repetitive after a while, if you ask me.
Other than that, it’s an enjoyable coming of age novel for girls from the younger audience. Girls from the age of 12 upwards will no doubt find this story fantastic and easily relatable, since they’re going through the same problems themselves. On the whole, Growing Pains: Kendra’s Diaries is a nice summer read for anyone from the younger audience.