Sunday, March 04, 2007
The 25 Pains of Kennedy Baines by Dede Crane
The 25 Pains of Kennedy Baines by Dede Crane surprised me. Crane, who is new to writing, started off with an adult novel, Sympathy. Although Sympathy garnered a great deal of praise, I admit that I haven't yet finished it. The writing was good, but the subject matter of losing a husband and child in a car accident and the main character's tenuous grip on sanity was something you have to be up for and I just wasn't. So, I expected Crane's first YA novel be as grueling. Not so. It was fresh and easy to read and was about as true to the ups and downs of teenage life as you can get. I enjoyed the way Crane wove threads from the classic Pride and Prejudice, Kennedy's favourtie book, throughout the structure of her novel. There is modern day version of Austen's flashy Wickham character, Colin, the handsome yet sleazy son of Kennedy's mother's university friend. Colin is unappealing to all except Kennedy and her inexperienced friends. His counter is Eliot, an ethnic version of Mr. Darcey, who is every bit the gentle, learned soul. Like Elizabeth, Kennedy finally figures it all out in the end, but not before a sexual encounter heats things up. This scene was my only problem with the book and my discomfort had nothing to do sex. I just found that Colin stepped too far out of character to make it believable. Still, The 25 Pains of Kennedy Baines is a great teen read and I'd definitely recommend it. In fact, giving a young reader both would be a perfect way to introduce a classic, and it may just help to keep the door to discussions about sex open.