The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Hailey Kendrick always does exactly what's expected of her. She has the right friends, dates the perfect boy, gets good grades, and follows all the rules. But one night, Hailey risks everything by breaking a very big rule in a very public way...and with a very unexpected partner in crime. Hailey gets caught, but her accomplice does not, and Hailey takes the fall for both of them.
Suddenly, Hailey's perfect life--and her reputation--are blowing up in her face. Her friends are all avoiding her. Her teachers don't trust her. Her boyfriend won't even speak to her for long enough to tell her that she's been dumped.
They say honesty is the best policy--but some secrets are worth keeping, no matter the cost. Or are they? (Summary from Goodreads.com)
This may sound strange, but I knew the moment I saw one of Eileen Cook's books that I would love her. Still, I was shocked by how much I adored this book. The Education of Hailey Kendrick is a contemporary that perfectly balances funny and serious, life lessons and good times, pain and laughter. I was addicted from the very first sentence:
There was a matter of life and death to deal with, and instead we were wasting our time discussing Mandy Gallaway's crotch.
This is the classic "Uptight bitty learns to let loose" story, but it doesn't feel exhausting. It's fresh and sweet. And it has hot guys, which is like....HOT GUYS! What I liked a lot is that there's not really a love triangle. It's more like there are 3 guys that like her and she has to figure out what she really wants. She doesn't lead any of the guys on, but she does have strange feelings about all three of them at one time or another, which has been known to happen to teenage girls. But Hailey's relationship problems are not the prominent focus in the book, because honestly, she has more important things to worry about. She's got mad Daddy issues, she went from hero to zero because of one silly mistake, and now she has to be a part-time janitor. But through all of that, she remains strong and doesn't snitch on her friend. Even though she changes a lot, she doesn't cave under pressure and she doesn't really lose sight of who she is. I really like Hailey and I like how much she grows throughout the novel.
And the aforementioned guys...I love all 3 of them. They were all really sweet in their own ways. There was no bad boy. I was split in 3 throughout this entire book, because I wanted her to end up with each one of them. Joel is smart and sort of nerdy. Tristan is the popular celebrity's son. And Drew was just full of surprises! I'm pretty happy how things ended up on this front, though it seemed that things were tied up with Tristan too quickly and too easily.
There was a lot of fun in this book. Hailey learns that she has to let go of her safety precautions (she has an obsession with safety. As in, she'll calculate all the ways a person can die in every single activity she does). She sneaks out of the school. She goes to Walmart and puts on a crazy outfit. She even does karaoke! It's amazing to witness all these simple firsts, and so much fun because they all remind me of stuff me and my friends do.
I loved the ending. Besides the one thing I said about Tristan, things were wrapped up quite nicely. With her dad and her "prison" sentence. With her best friend. And with the kids at school. I loved that even though Hailey made a mistake that pretty much screwed the entire school, it's obvious that they still have her back and that they are very willing to forgive her. I'd recommend this to anybody, but especially those who want to feel young again! This book is full of goofy antics and important lessons. I can't wait to read more from Eileen Cook.