The Day I Became an Autodidact Critical Essays

Kendall Hailey


(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Kendall Hailey’s teenage diary is quite easy to read and often amusing. It reflects the randomness of her youthful interests and mental processes, as well as her maturing grasp of life, relationships, and her own self. Over the course of four years—from her junior year of high school to age nineteen—Hailey grows from teenager to woman, earns public and parental recognition, and shares numerous insights with her readers. These insights focus on interpersonal relationships, the fleeting quality of fame, the importance of health and friends, and the intricacies of educating oneself. She deals with a variety of familial issues, her attraction to a younger man, her fear of not being talented, her relief at not having to fit into the academic structures of her peers, and her understanding of who she has become and where she is heading at this pivotal juncture of her young life. Hailey becomes a friend and confidant to her readers, asking little of them but companionship. Some of her diary passages are short, others more extensive, but they all flow together because of her ability to draw readers into her life and invite them to stay.

Few if any first-person works have been published that address what it would be like for teenagers to follow their own desires. While Hailey’s circumstances are unique—her parents are talented, famous, and rather well-off financially; and her offbeat household encompasses several generations and contains a majority of females—she is not a spoiled child. Her appreciation of her privileged situation makes her voice sympathetic, her commentary insightful rather than egotistical.

Hailey’s interest in films, novels, stageplays, and...

(The entire section is 689 words.)