Title: K My Name is Kendra
Author: Kamichi Jackson
Genre: Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Kendra James’ life begins to spiral out of control with the return of her long-lost runaway sister Meisha, and the visit of a young celebrity uncle with questionable intentions. Things take a particular turn for the worse when that uncle exploits Kendra’s loneliness and untreated depression and makes a move on her that sends her world into a tailspin from which she’s not sure she’ll ever recover. Will she survive this tragedy…or will she hit rock-bottom before anyone even notices?
About the Author
In addition to K My Name Is Kendra, Kamichi Jackson is the author of an e-book entitled Where Present Meets Past (originally available as part of the now-defunct Amazon Shorts Program), the middle reader book, You’re Too Much, Reggie Brown, a forthcoming adult novel entitled The Brownstone, two unproduced screenplays, and several short stories. KJ has made numerous appearances in support of her work, among them was the Baltimore Book Festival. When not writing, Kamichi is likely off somewhere singing karaoke. The South Norwalk, Connecticut native currently resides in Northern Virginia with family.
Exclusive Interview with Kendra of K My Name is Kendra
Tell me exactly what you were feeling the moment you saw Meisha after ten long years.
I wasn’t surprised to see her. I knew she’d come back someday. I just knew it. It was always only a matter of when. But to be honest, in that moment, I literally stopped breathing for a few seconds. I mean, the last time I saw her I was only five years old! To see her again out of the blue like that…I felt like I was going to pass out. But I had to play it cool in front of her and Nita.
Let’s talk about Quiz. Why would you go to his studio alone? Are you really so naïve that you wouldn’t think something bad would happen?
I mean, I don’t know. Quiz was cute and I was really attracted to him. I’ve never had someone like him look at me the way he did. Like I’m a woman. I guess I kinda wanted to prove that I was. And he’s Philip’s friend, so I really didn’t think he would do anything to me that I didn’t want to do. I had no idea what he was really planning. It literally makes me sick to think about it now.
Seems like Philip has a low opinion of you. What’s up with that?
I’m not sure. Up until the Quiz thing, I had never done anything that would make him not like me. I think some of it was really about Meisha and whatever things people said she did before she left. And the way she left—it hurt our family a lot and changed everything. I think all of that came back to him when I got involved with Quiz.
If there have always been rumors in the family about Uncle CJ—enough that even you’ve often felt uncomfortable around him—why would you keep talking to him and accepting gifts and going to his place?
I feel like people are judging me so much for the way it all went down! I needed someone to listen to me and pay attention to me. No one in my family was doing that at the time. So when Uncle CJ came along, I was just so glad to have someone there for me. I just pushed the weird feelings aside so that I could hold onto the feeling of having someone pay attention to me for as long as I could. I never, ever thought it would go down the way it did. Never in a million years.
You and Nita are so close. Why didn’t you tell her about the Uncle CJ situation? Or at least about all the drama going on with your family? Couldn’t you trust her?
I should’ve trusted her. It’s just that—with the whole Uncle CJ thing—I was just really ashamed and hurt. I felt like it was my fault that it kept happening. I didn’t want to think about it or talk about it. To anyone. At all. I just wanted to forget it was happening. Plus, I knew she would tell her mom—who would tell my mom. Our family was still in so much pain, and Meisha being back wasn’t going to make everyone happy once they found out. There was just so much going on. I didn’t want to add to the drama. I didn’t know what to do. It was easier to just pretend it wasn’t happening. I was hoping it would just eventually stop.
Were you surprised at how Principal Moore handled your situation? He could’ve given you major detention time. Or even expelled you!
I really was! I knew when I walked out of school that day that it was going to come back on me. I knew my family would be angry when I got home that night, and I knew I’d get into trouble once I got back to school the next day. But in that moment, I just didn’t care. Thinking about all that was happening to me…I just didn’t care. I had to get out. So when Principal Moore said he had to punish me, I expected the worst. What he did for me instead was the best—it makes me cry sometimes thinking about it. Because of him, I know I can be a writer. I know I can pursue my dreams. If he hadn’t set me up with Miss Wilson as her mentee, everything might be different now. He told me to put all the negative energy into something positive and productive. If I hadn’t done that and started my scribble sessions with Miss Wilson, I might still be going down a negative path. I feel like he saved me, for real.
Do you think your family will ever fully heal from this?
We’ve been through so much. And I think not everyone is going to let stuff go. But I think those of us who want things to change will make change. I don’t think people should live in the past. Bad things are going to happen in life, but I think it’s about how you come back from it that matters. I’m in therapy now. It’s hard, and sometimes I don’t want to put in the work the way my counselor says I need to. But I’m trying, because I don’t want this to be the thing that takes over my life and stops me from being the woman I want to be. So I’m doing the best I can, and most of my family is being supportive. That’s all I want right now. Their love and their support.