Thursday, June 22, 2017

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

Summary from Goodreads:
When best friends are not forever . . .

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it's worth the journey.
This was way better than I was expecting. I already know Shannon Hale can write excellent YA, and the occasional excellent graphic novel. I had no idea she had this tough middle grade graphic novel to bring to the world. This book is so true to the mindset of middle school girls, I almost had to put it down because of memories it had me recalling.
I’ve never seen the use of cliques handled and told so truthfully. I’ve often in life gone over when and why I lost connections with friends. It’s something I’m sure we all do as we get older. We don’t stay in touch with everyone (even with Facebook). And this book really had me look backwards to where a lot of my dissolved friendships started: middle school.
I felt for Shannon because I’ve been Shannon. I’ve lost and gained friends to cliques. I’ve also been hypnotized by the appeal of cliques and been in them and I’ve seen their inner awfulness and left them (despite some pretty terrible consequences). I was 100% relating to this story. And just the idea that someone went through this almost exactly as I did, empowered me, as an adult. Can you imagine what this book could do for a 10 year old girl experiencing this now?
Girl friendships are so complicated. And sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to discover who your true friends are. I was extraordinarily lucky to have found some amazing friends in high school, college, and graduate school –true friends I’m still in touch with and love today. But, middle school was just the worst. I don’t think I’m in touch with anyone from those years. Kids can be evil villans in their own right. I can honestly see this book helping people.
I guess I just loved how honest this book was. It didn’t sugar coat the group dynamics. I also love that the head of the group never came off as the stereotypical queen bee you often see in tv and books. She looked normal (not even blonde). The head of the group could end up being anyone. I love how this book touches on the fact of friends moving away and changing everything too. What do you do when you’re one good friend leaves?
The one thing I did no love about the book was how it all wrapped up at the end. For such a truthful story of how awful middle school can be, the ending seemed so fake and unnecessary. I like that Shannon found new friends, but I hated how everything had to be tied up with the old ones. Sometimes old friends and old non-friends just stay old and in the past, and I was kind of hoping for a more realistic end for that.
All in all though, the art is was bright and fun. The characters and group dynamics were authentic and intense. I loved how honest this book was (at least until the ending). I wish the ending wasn’t so perfect –it was the one unbelievable aspect to me. I give it an 8/10.

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