From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 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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Fans of Tyrell (2006) will welcome another tale about a Bronx teen facing big challenges. Fifteen-year-old Kendra has been raised by her grandmother, Nana, while her 29-year-old mother has been away earning university degrees. Now that her mother’s PhD is complete, Kendra is hoping that the family will finally reunite, but her mom chooses to get a studio apartment without her daughter. Kendra’s longing for love leads her too quickly into a physical relationship with hot Nashawn. Kendra doesn’t want sex, in part because Nana threatens to have her physically “checked” to confirm her virginity, but Nashawn suggests oral and anal sex as alternatives to traditional intercourse. Kendra agrees, and she is guilt ridden over the acts (which are frankly discussed) as well as confused by the passion she feels. Her father, who is in a dead-end job as a snack-food truck driver, rounds out the strong secondary characters. Kendra’s talent at architectural drawing and set design will attract artistic teens, while her realistic daily problems with friends, family, and boys will appeal to a wide audience. Grades 10-12. --Cindy Dobrez