Constance of Kent Street by Steven Yuresko


Set in Brooklyn at the turn of the century during the industrial revolution when America was rapidly changing, Constance of Kent Street by Steven Yuresko touches on the major life events of Constance from the ages of seven to ten. At the beginning of the novella, Constance, like every seven year old child, is headstrong and selfish. Angry at her parents for not giving her a pony for Christmas coupled with the fact that her (at the time) worse enemy, Amy, received a pony, Constance is the quintessential ungrateful child sulking in the corner. However, as the months progress, Constance encounters some of the evils of the world with death becoming an all too familiar acquaintance to the young girl. Thus, Constance quickly matures into an insightful child. By the end of this story, Constance learns important life lessons that every child must eventually accept.

Constance of Kent Street is much darker than one would initially think when beginning this story. Upon picking it up and beginning during the Christmas season with a child secretly munching on cookies while waiting for Santa Claus, one expects a lighthearted tale about a pretty middle-class girl without a worry in the world. However, Constance encounters some sad events that she does not fully grasp as a child, but the reader can acknowledge how dismal they are. Between her father losing his job and developing an issue with alcohol, almost being molested, and then witnessing the man’s death at the hands of the police, or waking up in the middle of the night to encounter the grotesque face of little boy who died of consumption, Constance witnesses some terrors of life in a rapid succession that most children do not have to deal with. Yuresko does a good job at balancing Constance’s child-like view of the world while showing what is really happening to the wiser adult reader. The novella is a classic coming of age story with a main character who becomes wise beyond her years.