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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Book Review: Best Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

In this book, which picks up where Real Friends left off, Shannon is now in 6th grade, with a group of friends, but still just as confused as ever. Her new best friend mostly seems great, expect when sometimes she drops Shannon or seems to be buddying up to her old best friend, Shannon's enemy, again. Another girl in the group occasionally seems to be spreading untrue rumors about Shannon, mostly harmless, but not always. Shannon can't keep up with what's popular, what's trendy, and actually feels like watching the most popular TV show and listening to the Top 40 every week is her most important homework. And then there's boys. The most confusing subject of all.

Oh, the emotions felt so real, so visceral, and it took me whipping back in time. I understood every feeling she was going through, every baffling situation, all the tension and anxiety. (Well, but she has actual Anxiety issues and I didn't. But I still understand them even if I didn't experience them.) Even with no longer experiencing daily bullying, life doesn't feel much better on a day to day basis. I especially was heartbroken when she spent a weekend with her old best friend who had moved away, who dissed her and wanted to spend more time with Shannon's sisters.

This book will have you reliving middle school. It's chock-full of details from an era when personal relationships were the most fraught, when everything you did seemed wrong, when it felt like everyone else had a script to a play you were ad-libbing, and boy am I glad that time is over.

This book is published by First Second, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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