CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 23. . . .February 18, 2011
The Education of Hailey Kendrick.
New York, NY: Simon Pulse (Distributed in Canada by Simon & Schuster Canada), 2011.
256 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.
Review by Vasso Tassiopoulos.
Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.
I looked at my hands. They were covered in mud, and I had broken two fingernails. Busted. I was mad. In fact, it was possible I had left mad behind, whipped through angry, and was plunk in the middle of really pissed off. I had been disappointed that my dad seemed fine with me living far away at boarding school. I felt let down that when I got straight A's, won state championships in debate, and made student government, all he did was pat me absently on the head like a good puppy who had managed to bring back a stick without peeing on the rug. I was bummed that my dad was so disinterested in my life that he could barely remember the names of my friends when he did see me, but this was a whole new level of ticked off. I felt my eyes fill up with tears again.
Since the age of 12, Hailey Kendrick has focused all of her energy on being a perfect daughter and a model student. Her perfectionism is her way of improving her father's sensitive state after her mother's tragic and abrupt death. Her reputation is that of a reliable perfectionist at Evehsam, the boarding school her father sends her to after her mother's passing. During the academic year before she starts university, Hailey is looking forward to plans of spending the summer with her father. When he cancels their plans via e-mail, she realizes how tired and upset she is of being pushed away over the years. After being let down, she impulsively decides to rebel and loses her respected status at her prestigious boarding school. In turn, she unexpectedly learns the insignificance of perfectionism in her life.
The novel will appeal to teens as it explores the typical and sometimes outrageous problems faced by the story's privileged and wealthy teen characters. Hailey's recklessness will keep readers entertained and also enlightened because it is through her rebellious actions that Hailey comes to learn about herself and what makes her happy in life. Her loyalty to her friends makes her a sympathetic character despite her sometimes (unintentionally) irritating and naive insights into social class differences from her privileged point of view. Hailey is the novel's conscience amidst the superficiality of some of the gossiping and popularity-obsessed students she encounters at Evesham. Her insights make her the novel's moral conscience and someone readers can rely on to learn from her mistakes as she eventually makes the best out of the negative predicament in which she finds herself.
The Education of Hailey Kendrick fits into the genre of chick-lit and will especially appeal to teens who are fans of such novels. The novel is a humorous and sensitive coming-of-age story and is filled with romantic complications, friendship issues, and gossip, within the confines of wealthy boarding school life. How Hailey's decisions impact all of these things makes this novel a quick and fun read for teens looking for just that.
Vasso Tassiopoulos is currently completing a Master of Arts degree in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia and presently holds the position of recording secretary for The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Canada.
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