Mock Newbery Nominee: Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

The new year is here as is week six of our Mock Newbery summaries and reviews. Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham is the next nominee for you to consider. If you haven't picked this graphic memoir up yet, you are missing out on a relatable story about friendship and the struggle to fit in.

Summary: Shannon has been best friends with Adrienne since they were small, they do everything together. This year as Adrienne starts spending more time with Jen and a new group of friends, Shannon is no longer sure of their friendship. Shannon doesn't know where she stands with "The Group." Sometimes she and Jen get along great, other times she is excluded and bullied by other group members. In addition to her friendship troubles, Shannon also navigates a rocky relationship with an older sister. Eventually Shannon finds a way to be true to herself and find friends who value her.

While the setting and plot weren't necessarily standouts, the theme and characters of this story were excellent and right on target for the intended audience. Friendship is a tricky path to navigate and it can be particularly complicated during the middle school years as we all go through so many changes. Hale addresses these complications in a way that many will relate to. Seeing a friendship change overnight, feeling isolated and excluded, no longer sharing the same interests; these are all explored in a very immediate and authentic way. Some of the "friends" in the group are hard to differentiate, but the main four girls all feel like real people. Shannon's relationship with her sister Wendy is also a very tangible thing as she is on the receiving end of verbal and sometimes physical abuse. The author's note does a good job of expanding on the future of this relationship, which I was grateful for.

While not the strongest contender, it may still be worth your vote. Visit our Kid's Page before January 31st to get your vote counted, or stay tuned next week for another summary and review if you haven't read all the nominees.

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