4.4 28
by Coe Booth

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The acclaimed author of TYRELL returns to PUSH with a striking novel about a mother and daughter who are only fourteen years apart, but need to learn to understand each other before it's too late.

Kendra's mom, Renee, had her when she was only 14 years old. Renee and her mom made a deal -- Renee could get an education, and Kendra would live with her grandmother.


The acclaimed author of TYRELL returns to PUSH with a striking novel about a mother and daughter who are only fourteen years apart, but need to learn to understand each other before it's too late.

Kendra's mom, Renee, had her when she was only 14 years old. Renee and her mom made a deal -- Renee could get an education, and Kendra would live with her grandmother. But now Renee's out of grad school and Kendra's in high school ... and getting into some trouble herself. Kendra's grandmother lays down the law: It's time for Renee to take care of her daughter. Kendra wants this badly -- even though Renee keeps disappointing her. Being a mother isn't easy, but being a daughter can be just as hard. Now it's up to Kendra and Renee to make it work.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Vikki Terrile
Kendra has spent her whole life waiting for her mother RenTe to come home and actually be her mother. Only fourteen when she gave birth, RenTe was able to finish school because her mother offered to care for Kendra, with the understanding that once she was done, mother and daughter would find a place of their own. Three degrees and fourteen years later, Kendra is still waiting for RenTe, getting in over her head with a boy at school, and needing a mother more than ever. As with Tyrell (PUSH/Scholastic, 2006/VOYA February 2007), Booth's strengths in this work are the reality of the story and the character's voice. Kendra's fear and disappointment about her mother's ambivalence permeates the novel, and she reacts with authentic teenage self-righteousness when accused of doing forbidden things she has done in secret. RenTe does not miraculously become the dream mother for whom Kendra has longed, but by the end of the novel, Kendra has gained the maturity to realize she is okay with the imperfect family she has. Unfortunately the novel includes some unsettling stereotypes about sex. Kendra says she feels dirty and used after her first encounters with Nashawn, a boy at school, and yet later is unable to resist him. She describes their hook-ups as something that "just happened," even though she says she knew it was wrong and a mistake. This rationalization is in character for a teen craving affection and raised by a strict grandmother, but it also denies Kendra any sexual empowerment. Teens will still be eager to get their hands on this powerful follow-up to Tyrell's story. Reviewer: Vikki Terrile
Phyllis Thompson
Growing up in the South Bronx isn't easy, and no one knows that better than 14-yearold Kendra Williamson. This is her story, an urban coming-of-age tale that is not afraid to expose the challenges of growing up female amidst the hard-edged realities of inner city life. It is in Booth's concrete, gritty realism, as seen in schoolgirl rivalries, skanky outfits, and hushed sex, as well as her emotional landscapes blighted by absence, rejection, and betrayal, that readers will find characters with whom they can connect and lives as complicated as their own. While Kendra can be characterized as a problem novel with an attitude, and one that will no doubt appeal to high school readers, it can also be characterized as a testament to humanity. While Booth's world is a dark and problematic one, it is not without hope. and she does not leave her readers without a guide. The explicit language and sexual content of this novel suggest that it is geared toward high school students. Reviewer: Phyllis Thompson
Children's Literature - Ashley Clay
Kendra, a ninth grade girl attending an arts school, lives in New York City with her grandmother. Her life comes to a confusing crossroads when she turns 14—interestingly, the same age her mother, Renee, was when she gave birth to Kendra. Because of her mother's teen pregnancy, Kendra lives an overly sheltered life facilitated by her grandmother, who fears Kendra will make the same mistakes as Renee. Kendra's sister-like relationship with her absent mother defines her life as she enters a hormonal high school world and starts experimenting with her own sexuality. When Renee, who has been away completing her PhD, takes a teaching job in New York City, Kendra believes she will finally be invited into her home and life as a daughter. Kendra is smart like her mother, but decisions she makes with the most attractive boy at school just might make her more like her mother than she thought. Coe Booth's follow-up effort to her first novel, Tyrell, solidifies her place in the literary world as a gritty and genuine writer. Both this novel and Tyrell highlight the struggles young teens face involving sex, drugs, and poverty. Reviewer: Ashley Clay
School Library Journal

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

Kirkus Reviews

Kendra, a thoughtful, introspective teen, is more into theatrical design than getting into trouble. Even so, Grandmother Nana is very strict and dislikes Kendra's sassy best friend Adonna—who just happens to be her aunt. The only daughter of teenage parents, Kendra often dreams about her career-driven mother Renée's finishing her doctorate and rescuing her from Nana's rules. When Kendra finds herself attracted to Adonna's crush Nashawn and then becomes sexually active, her relationships and her life change forever. While Kendra's inner dialogue and feelings draw the reader into the story, the intimate episodes with Nashawn are vague and sudden, and her rationale for getting involved with him seems out of character. Thus, Kendra's tale is uneven, with a clear and honest voice in the first half, followed by an implausible trajectory to the end. Moreover, the central conflicts of the story—Kendra's relationships with her mother and grandmother—are rushed to a conclusion, subsumed beneath a typical urban teen romance. The powerful beginning nevertheless signals Booth as a talent to watch. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.01(w) x 6.98(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Coe Booth is a graduate of The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, and a winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction. She is the author of Tyrell and Kendra, and was born and still lives in the Bronx.

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4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Kendra is trying to figure out her place in life. She's definitely not full of confidence, like her cousin and friend, Adonna. Her mom is busy with school and she lives with her Nana, who is constantly trying to mold her into the daughter that she wanted.

Joining the stage crew for the school play is the start of Kendra's journey. Her ideas and designs are praised and noticed, especially by Nashawn. He's one of the hottest guys in school. The problem is, Adonna has her eyes on him, too. Three's a crowd, that's for sure.

Whatever Adonna wants, she's determined to get, no matter who gets hurt.

KENDRA was a very good novel. Throughout the book, you get to know Kendra and see her grow up. She makes some choices that aren't approved by everyone, but she's full of good character and has a strong heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book coe booth really knows how to capture life through a teens eyes in a real and blunt way. I liked kendras charachter because she tells the story of alot of teens today dealing with being the product of teenage parents and how they try hard not to be like their parents. Great YA book all teens should read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kendra is about this girl named Kendra who is 14 years old. Her mom, Renee had her when she was 14 years old. She told her mom that if she could take care of Kendra while she goes back to school and go to college to get a degree, that she would take responsibility of Kendra once she graduated and had a job. Renee is 28 years old and now has her life back on track that it is time for her to take responsibility of Kendra but she does not want that responsibility yet she wants to be able to go out and live her life still. Kendra is getting into trouble and the grandmother has tried her best to raise her right so she would not make the same mistakes as her sister so she sends Kendra to live with her mother, and have her deal with the problems. Kendra has been wanting to live with her mother but now that she is she doesn't know how well it actually is going to work out. I thought this book was slow at the beginning and hard to get in to but as I got farther a long in the book the plot started to pick up and I thought it turned out to be a good book. It gave a good lesson that some things take time. You have to be patient with things and take things slow and eventually things will get to where you want them to be. It was interesting to see the life of someone who's mother had her at the age of 14. Also how both the daughter and mother grew up to be good people because sometimes having a kid at such a young age can really put a hold on your life. Luckily the mother was able to carry on with her life and it seems as if she will become very successful.
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Cougar_H More than 1 year ago
I learned from this book to make wise decisions. For example , in the book Kendra, Kendra has an aunt which is also her bestfriend and her dad's younger sister that goes to the same school as her. Kendra's aunt Adonna likes a very popular boy named Nashawn and Kendra likes him too , but Nashawn is interested in Kendra in all the wrong ways , and it leads to things Kendra could never think of, like sleeping with him. That's why from this book I learned to make wise decisions because not everybody comes off as exactly what you see them as , and they could be somebody totally different from what you thought , and they can be talking to you for all of the wrong reasons , like Nashawn. It's important to make wise decisions in situations like these , because it could lead to a lot of trouble and if Kendra would've made a better decision like not associating herself with Nashawn , then none of these bad decisions would never had happened. Making wise decisions prevent conflict and trouble and that's why I learned to make wise decisions from reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
wonderful rading
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KLBCHOICES More than 1 year ago
Kendra Williamson is fourteen years old and she attends North Bronx High School for Arts and Communications. She loves to draw houses and floor plans; a skill that will lead to a promising career in the future. She's not focusing a whole lot on future plans, though. The main thing that's on her mind, what she wants more than anything, is to spend more time with her mother, Renee. Kendra lives with her Nana, Valerie. Renee, who gave birth to Kendra in ninth grade, missed ten years of her daughter's life while she finished high school, then college and then grad school. Now she's graduating from Princeton with a PhD and Kendra believes she will finally have a "real" mother. A mother who will be around for more than just minutes at a time and will care about the things she cares about. A mother who will want her. But, sadly, once Renee is back in the Bronx the neglect continues so, desperate for attention, Kendra makes a choice that surprises even her. A choice she regrets, but repeats even though she feels so bad about herself after the first time. I felt so bad for Kendra. The girl goes out there and makes choices she probably wouldn't have made if somebody would have taken the time to talk to her and, most of all, truly love her. Her mother obviously loved herself more than she loved her daughter. Renee was only concerned about what she wanted and didn't give Kendra a second thought. I was so glad Kendra's Nana cared enough about her granddaughter to raise her. Valerie loved Kendra the best way she knew how, but her way was a bit controlling and smothering. And Kendra's dad, Kenny? Well, it seemed he was still trying to find his own way in the world. The author was not playin' when she penned this novel. Teenagers are way more mature, way more knowledgeable these days and Coe Booth did not hold back when she wrote about the sexual experiences of her young characters. The things fourteen year old Kendra did really shocked and disgusted me. I was saddened by her choices, and disappointed to find out that some of today's young people are making the same choices. There is one thing I learned from reading this book that I did not care to know, and there was quite a bit of profanity to overlook, but this was a good story. And, like I mentioned before, Coe Booth was not playin'! So, if you can handle the truth about the choices "some" young people are making when it comes to sex, then you might want to read this book.
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PrettyGirlKM More than 1 year ago
great book and story line
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bookzz More than 1 year ago
okay this is a really good book, especially for teens; it has so much realism and you really get caught up in this book. once i started reading this book i could not even put it down.. I LOVE THIS BOOK.. :-D
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Make a second.