Monday, August 28, 2017

Real Friends, by Shannon Hale (illus. LeUyen Pham)

Teenage life isn't always easy. Not even for a (now) well-publicized YA author.

In her new graphic novel memoir, Real Friends, author Shannon Hale talks first-hand about growing up and what happens when your best friend starts hanging out with the popular girls. Sometimes this means you get included (and that's awesome), sometimes it means you get left out (and that's awful). Always, there is drama. Always, there are tears. And aways, you never know where you stand...and this can change from moment to moment. Literally.

Red-haired, freckled Shannon became friends with pretty blonde Adrianne in Kindergarten, and she believed they would always be best friends. But by third grade, things were changing. Adrianne had attracted the attention of Jen and Jenny, the most popular girls in class. Thus began a constant tug-of-war that lasted until just before the summer before of middle school (And probably continued well after it, but since the book ends there, the reader can only make a logical guess). Rumors were hatched, secrets were whispered, lies were told, and friendships broke up and made up. Add to this family issues (with parents, with siblings), and you can't escape the drama. But throughout everything was the theme of what friendship is (and isn't), what it should be (and shouldn't be), and how to find it (and keep it the best way you can). The lesson here is this: No matter what, your real friends will be the ones who stick by you. And sometimes they're found in the most surprising of places. 

Real Friends reminded me a lot of Raina Telgmeier's uber-popular book, Smile. It has similar themes about family and friendship and finding who you are supposed to be, similar colorful & whimsical illustration style, and a storyline that anyone will relate to. 

I definitely recommend this one! --AJB 

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