Shannon's best friend Adrienne has always been there, until she starts hanging out with a new best friend, Jen, who becomes the leader of "The Group." Shannon fits in to the group some of the time, but finds herself feeling pressured to like and dislike things based on one person's opinion, instead of deciding for herself. She is also dealing with a harsh older sister at home. This is a story about how to find your place, even when it seems like someone is determined to make you feel left out.
Fans of Smile and Roller Girl will welcome this book, which is in graphic novel format. It's a relief to read a book that spells out so clearly what is often nebulous in girl worlds - the feeling of being included one day, but wondering why others can't join in, and the feeling of being excluded for no reason the next. The first copy of this book was so popular among my fifth grade students that I had to add more.
Best Friends Book Review:
The best part of this book is the honesty of the mixed messages students receive about who they are supposed to be; as events happen in the book, Shannon notes social rules, which are often contradictory - but naming the rules without heavy-handed commentary or reflection is a strength here, inviting the reader to examine the impossibility of following all of these expectations. Shannon's anxiety is also relatable, and many readers will be relieved to know they are not alone in that regard. Some of the book elements are a little scattered, including an ongoing glimpse of her middle-grade story that ultimately inspires her to become a writer. Although this is meant to provide a thread of who she is at heart throughout the social chaos, the shifts to segments of that story do not always fit the main narrative. Real Friends is a more cohesive story, but its may fans will likely enjoy this book just as much.
"Please quit the group with me. We don't need them. We can form our own group."
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