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Best friends
2017
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Summary
Shannon knows sixth grade is going to be a perfect year. She's got a spot in the in-crowd called The Group, and her best friend is their leader Jen, the most popular girl in school.But the rules are always changing, and Shannon has to scramble to keep up. She never knows which TV shows are cool, what songs to listen to, and, most importantly, which boys you're allowed to talk to. Who makes these rules anyway? And does Shannon have to follow them to stay friends with The Group?
Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4--7--Hale follows up her poignant graphic memoir Real Friends, which depicted the twists and turns of elementary school relationships. This time the author looks back on sixth grade. In 1985, Shannon and her friends were the oldest students and anticipated being queens of the school. They belonged to "The Group," a crew of new and old friends who were cute and popular but whose rules of behavior were capricious and confusing, often leaving Shannon anxious and struggling to make sense of it all and fit in. With each page turn, every character becomes ever more believable and complex, and the situations they experience ring true. The artwork is appealing and animated, with backgrounds that darken and become shadowy when Shannon is feeling isolated and sad. Panels move the action along with crisp lines, fun 1980s references, and well-placed, expressive speech balloons. The frequent fantasy sequences are beautifully color saturated, with lovely, hazy shapes that let readers' imaginations soar right along with Shannon's. An author's note speaks honestly and compassionately about anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. VERDICT A terrific look at middle school culture, and a compelling sequel to a fabulous middle grade graphic memoir. This authentic, important book will mean a great deal to many kids and empower those who are happier following their own inclinations than in going along with the group.--Kelley Gile, Cheshire Public Library, CT
Booklist Review
Following right on the heels of her graphic memoir Real Friends (2017), Hale continues the story of her struggles to find friends in elementary school. Now in sixth grade and finally at the top of the social heap, Shannon starts out the year fully ensconced in the in-crowd. Queen Bee Jen is her locker mate; the girl who spread lies about her the year before is leaving her alone; and she finally feels like she has a group of real friends. At least, at first. Before long, Shannon starts noticing that the games and activities she likes most writing, playing make-believe aren't as fun for her friends, who are starting to go with boys and only talk about TV shows and pop music, none of which she can keep up with. Meanwhile, Shannon's issues with anxiety, which began appearing in Real Friends, become even harder to ignore, and Pham's depiction of her intrusive thoughts a black, fuzzy cloud with jittery, scratchy white writing, in sharp contrast to her warm, full-color figures elsewhere really drives home how jarring those thoughts can be. In addition to thoughtfully depicting the rocky, ephemeral nature of childhood friendships, Hale doesn't shy away from her own childhood complicity in bullying and the ways her desires to fit in made her doubt her judgment about herself and others. This uncommonly honest portrayal of the lures and pitfalls of popularity will likely ring true to many elementary and middle-school readers.--Sarah Hunter Copyright 2010 Booklist
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