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The 25 Pains of Kennedy Baines

by Dede Crane

Fifteen-year-old Kennedy Baines is coping with an unresponsive boyfriend, an annoying little sister, friends who think shoplifting is fun, and a liberal mom who may be having an affair. Contemporary life is nothing like her favourite book, Pride and Prejudice. But then her mother’s old friend from England arrives with her gorgeous, sexually active 18-year-old son, Colin. Is he destined to be Kennedy’s Mr. Darcy?

This is a novel for older teens that tackles many mature issues. Kennedy’s inner life is documented in part through her list of 25 “pains.” Her little sister is brought to life in vivid dialogue, as is the young man who turns out to be Kennedy’s real match and fellow opera lover, Elliot.

Unfortunately, many of the other characters, even Colin (who we learn has been charged with drunk driving), remain flat and lifeless. While Kennedy’s love of Pride and Prejudice provides much-needed insight into her character, the parallels between the two stories are not close enough to be compelling. Lines such as “Kennedy’s shocked but tries not to show it” distance us from the protagonist, even though the story is told from her viewpoint. Moreover, plot often trumps reason: for instance, it’s unlikely that Kennedy’s mom (who seems flaky throughout most of the novel but comes through as trustworthy at the end) would have allowed a character like Colin to sleep on a pullout bed near the isolated basement bedroom of her sexually curious daughter. And the way Kennedy rescues herself from a cougar attack by singing is exciting, but unconvincing.

Despite such problems, this is a suspenseful read that will appeal to older teens.


Reviewer: Joanne Findon

Publisher: Raincoast Books


Price: $11.95

Page Count: 248 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55192-979-1

Released: September

Issue Date: 2006-11


Age Range: 12+