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‘The Sweet In-Between’ by Sheri Reynolds

  Kendra “Kenny” Lugo is almost 18. Her momma died of cancer and her daddy is in prison. She lives with her “Aunt” Glo, her daddy’s girlfriend, and Glo’s children.
  Kenny feels like she doesn’t fit in with most kids, especially girls. She refuses to use the bathroom at school, in the hopes of not having any interaction that would make her a target of ridicule. She cuts her hair into a boyish crop and binds her chest with bandages. Her sexual ambiguity isn’t so much confusion for her but for others.
  “I kick along the beach and think about my lifestyle. I didn’t know I had one, and truth be told, I sort of thought you had to be eighteen to qualify. I’m surprised that Wendy doesn’t agree with my lifestyle, because that implies I’ve chosen to live a certain way when I haven’t really chosen anything at all. The sand doesn’t choose to mound up in a particular place. It just lands there grain by grain.”
  “The Sweet In-Between” by Sheri Reynolds is a coming-of-age tale filled with a family of quirky characters. Kenny is faced with traditional teen problems that are compounded by her unique circumstances and the family’s poverty.
  Kenny is terrified that when she turns 18 Aunt Glo will throw her out of the house. She does whatever she can to make herself indispensable to her surrogate mother. When a college student is killed right next door, Kenny becomes obsessed with the girls involved and becomes even more concerned about her own future.
  Reynolds, author of Oprah pick “The Rapture of Canaan” (1995), ably captures the self-doubt that plagues most teen girls. Kenny is an engaging character, though she comes across much younger than 17.
  And the characters are what make this book worth reading. With a touch of Southern flavor, Reynolds creates a family that illustrates just what a family should be — a group of people who love you for who you are even when you can’t love yourself.

 

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