Book review by
Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media
Kendra Book Poster Image
Sexual content needs discussion in urban coming-of-age read.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Kendra's mother Renee is never around when Kendra needs her. Renee and Nana fight because Renee won't care for Kendra. Kendra fools around with a boy she knows her cousin likes and lies to a boy who likes her. Nana kicks Kendra out when she finds out she fooled around with a boy. People tell Kendra she should be proud of her mother, having a baby in the ninth grade but "turning her life around" to get a Ph.D. Renee hurts Kendra's feelings by telling Kendra she wished she had used protection and not gotten pregnant so young. Kendra has a positive relationship with her father.


Two girls beat up another girl, punching her everywhere on the head, chest, and stomach, while other students watch. Kendra's Nana slaps and punches her in the head and face. Adonna "jumps" Kendra after school. Adonna punches Kendra and Kendra grabs Adonna's hair weave.


Plenty of overt sexual references (when Kendra licks frosting, a boy at her table says, "Girl, the way you was licking that thing, s--t, that was like a porno movie.") and well-described scenes of oral and anal sex -- Kendra wants to make sure she technically stays a virgin in case her grandmother checks. The gynecologist puts Kendra on the Pill and gives her a bag of condoms.


"Ho," "ass," "booty," "titties," "stank," "s--t," "bulls--t, "f--king," "f--k you," "asshole," "bitch," "pissed off."


Some brand name references, such as food products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Nashawn gives Kendra a beer and tells her, "C'mon, try it" when she says she's never had alcohol. She drinks it because "maybe it'll make me more relaxed."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know the book features a 14-year-old who has oral and anal sex with a boy at school but still considers herself a virgin. Although she feels used by this boy (he's dating her best friend while fooling around with her), she is too "weak" to resist him and has sex "without even thinking." She drinks alcohol to please him and to relax. On the positive side, he uses condoms. There is also extensive cursing and two incidences of girls beating each other up.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byadmireJAY95 July 29, 2010
This is a great book for teen 14 and older. Because it talks about phases young teenage girls are going through. Yeah it has cursing, sex and alcohol but it hap... Continue reading

What's the story?

Fourteen-year-old Kendra knows what happens to teens who have sex: They end up like her mother, pregnant as a high school freshman. Kendra's mom stays in school and continues to get her Ph.D. -- but only because Kendra's Nana raises her. Kendra is best friends with her aunt, Adonna, her dad's younger sister. Nana is overprotective, but even so, Kendra can't resist Nashawn, a hot older boy who is also dating Adonna. As their relationship heats up, Kendra really needs her mom to start acting like one.

Is it any good?

Teens will identify with Kendra's engaging first-person voice. She boasts a stereotypes-busting family, with a well-educated teen mom and a close relationship with her father, who pays regular child support. Nearly every chapter ends the same way, however, with Kendra let down by her mom. While this may be realistic, it grows tedious even for sympathetic readers who feel Kendra's pain of rejection.

For a self-described shy "good girl," Kendra's sudden jump to anal sex in the teachers lounge at school seems out of character, especially when she does it again despite feeling used. Her only explanation: "Why did I do this? I don't know." Readers will be glad when Kendra begins to accept her mother and her boyfriend on her own terms.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their definitions of sex and virginity. Do oral sex and anal sex count as "sex"? Do these really carry fewer emotional attachments? What does it mean to make good choices in relationships? What do teens and parents agree on? What don't you agree on? What do teens think about Nashawn's statement, "When a girl like you lets a guy like me hit it, of course I'm gonna do it. You're hot."

Book details

  • Author: Coe Booth
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Push
  • Publication date: October 1, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14
  • Number of pages: 292
  • Last updated: July 13, 2017

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