"Times do change, but experiences are timeless." (9)
Growing Pains relays the story of Kendra Foster, an awkward and insecure 13-year old living in New Orleans. Like any kid, she must contend with the pressures and anxiety of school, homework, peer rivalry, boys, and family. To make matters worse, her parents can't afford much and spend many hours arguing. Yeah, sounds like a typical childhood.
At first, the story took on a slow pace with Kendra's obsession with cheerleading tryouts and "praying" for a second chance. Praying seems to happen a lot for this kid, even though "God doesn't listen." Well, she is going to a Catholic school. But even though the story recovered the superficiality and monotony of my school days, still, I had no interest in all that God stuff.
“Don’t be a quitter. Life will bring about many difficult situations and the last thing you want to do is start quitting when things get hard. This is a painful but important choice you’ll have to make. The most important lesson for you to learn from this is that life is about choices and we have to live with the consequences of the choices we make.” (19) Even at a young age, Kendra must still make choices for herself. But just like with everybody else, her own worst critic, her own worst enemy, is herself. Fear is a constant barricade for her, and she resents the "life of her house"--all the "fussing, fighting, all the drama."
"I wanted a normal life, a normal family. I wanted to live in a happy home, a home where people got along, and loved each other—a home anyone would want to come home to. I couldn’t even enjoy the times when my parents weren’t fighting because I was so on edge, not knowing how and when the fighting would begin again. I felt like I was in prison, with no hope of parole." (50) Although Kendra is timid and reserved, she is also bright and intuitive. She somehow strives to rise above her shoddy environment. I liked how she dedicates herself to having "no regrets." Most people would be able to admire and relate to her in some way.
Written with a prosaic style and a degree of tedium, Growing Pains, nonetheless, ingeniously wraps all the teenage angst in one neat, little package. I didn't quite dive into this story whole-heartedly, but this novel will surely provoke nostalgia and motivation in many readers.
My rating: 3.5 stars