Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Friendship Lie

Donnelly, Rebecca. The Friendship Lie
Publication: August 1st 2019 by Capstone
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Cora and Kyle live in San Francisco with their father, who is an environmental scientist who studies where trash goes after it is discarded. Their mother is a similar scientist, and when the parents divorced, the mother took a year long assignment in Belgium. In addition to missing her mother, Cora is dealing with a misunderstanding between her and her best friend, Sybella. A new girl, Marnie, has started at the girls' school, and wants to be best friends with both of them, but Cora feels like Sybella is abandoning her. This is especially wrenching since the twins and Sybella shared an imaginery world called Aquafaba, and now Cora doesn't want to have much to do with it. When a poem written in a moment of weakness finds its way to Sybella's possession, Sybella doesn't know how to approach her friend about being accused of being a "friend abandoner". Since Sybella is working on some projects with Kyle, things are complicated. Marnie doesn't help, and is seemingly glad to have caused a rift between the friends. Will the best friends be able to make their way back to each other, or will they forever bag and bin their relationship?

The San Francisco setting of this book is quite charming, and the lengths to which the father wants to go to stop waste are admirable. From only letting the twins have one phone to limit e waste to not driving a car unless it can be fueled with compost, Dr. Davis' commitment to the environment is admirable. The school the children attends has a trashlympics, a competition for art made from found objects, and is also committed to sustainability. I wish there were more of this in children's literature; the more children are exposed to these themes, the more likely they are to practice recycling on their own.

Friendship drama is a big concern of fifth graders, and they handle it is a distinctly different way than their older middle school counterparts. Cora is devastated both by Sybella's actions and by her own thoughtlessness, and is worried from the start that Marnie might supplant her in Sybella's affections. The fact that an entire childhood imaginary world hangs in the balance makes this even more poignant.

Readers who like books that deal with the complexity of school and friends, like Clement's The Friendship War, Hunt's Fish in a Tree, Buyea's Mr. Terupt series and Russell's Dork Diaries will appreciate this thoughtful look at the dynamics of friends and family, and how the actions even of elementary students have a significant impact on the world at large.

This was a bit young for middle school, so I don't know that I will purchase.

Ms. Yingling

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