Book 1 of the Charm City Chronicles, Ednor Scardens by Kathleen Barker takes place in Baltimore in the nineteen sixties. The title is a play on words; a twist on the name of the neighborhood in which the protagonist, Kate Fitzgerald and her friends live: Ednor Gardens. The story begins as Kate and her chums are leaving the sixth grade in their coed parochial school. Kate comes from a working class catholic family, she and her mother live with her grandmother, with no father in the home; he was killed in the service before she was born.
Kate has developed breasts, and as such she is the envy of all her girlfriends, and the object of scrutiny by all the boys. She lives with her mother and grandmother, in a loving and supportive family, and has the usual problems and worries that girls of that age have. She develops a crush on both Gabe and Michael, who just happen to be brothers. During her last years at her coed school a new priest joins the faculty; one who is a danger both to boys and to girls.
Boys are never-ending source of mystery and trouble for Kate. There is plenty of the real-life misbehaving which I remember in my own teen years, and the general partying and abuse of alcohol among her and her set of friends is much as I remember in my small town set of friends.
This is not by any means simply a novel of fond reminiscence, however – Ednor Scardens deals with the issues which plague girls today – the temptations and pitfalls of life are trans-generational. Teenage girls and boys all struggle with the desire to remain chaste, and yet they struggle with their own physical changes and the wants and needs which those changes bring with them. Each teenager deals with those issues in their own way, and Kate’s personal struggles make for a wonderful coming of age tale.
The small dramas which happen in their daily life are every bit as entertaining as are the larger dramas; and are very real in the way they are portrayed. There is so much humor and love between Kate and her friends that the reader lives the story with them. The dark side of this story (and there IS a dark side), is handled very well.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-crafted romance. You won't be able to put it down until you have reached the end! Kathleen Barker has just published the second book in the Charm City Chronicles series, The Body War.