Sunday, February 23, 2020

That's What Friends Do

Barnhart, Cathleen. That's What Friends Do
March 3rd 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sammie and David have been good friends ever since the girls in her class started avoiding Sammie because she didn't share their growing interest in clothes and makeup. Sammie has even gone so far as to play baseball instead of softball, mainly because her father doesn't think that softball is a "real" sport. When Luke moves to town, David's mother makes him hang out with the new boy. David is intrigued by Luke's ease with girls, especially since David is starting to feel as if he likes Sammie more romantically than as a friend. As David spends more time with Luke, Sammie is at loose ends. Her parents are super busy, and her older sisters are interested in high school things, so she starts to talk to the girl softball players a bit and finds they aren't so bad. Luke seems to have an interest in Sammie, but it's more predatory than friendly. He eggs David and other boys on to try to kiss or touch Sammie, which  mortifies her. The other girls rally around her, and talk to her about how it isn't right for her to have to put up with this kind of behavior. Her sisters help with her father and the softball team. When a terrifying incident occurs, Sammie has to confront both Luke and David and find a way to make them understand, but also a way to be friends with them again.
Strengths: This is very timely, and has well developed characters who are all confused about a variety of things. I liked that Sammie was very sure of who she was and the things she enjoyed, David had to work at his father's business, and that Luke, for all his idiocy, has his sympathetic side. The family dynamics are very welcome; most middle grade readers have families they have to deal with, and just ordinary, everyday interactions can be fraught. I also liked that David and Sammie had different interests that started to pull them apart. The inclusion of a little bit of Jewis culture was also a nice touch.
Weaknesses: The alternating viewpoints made this very confusing, and the characters all had their moments of being unlikable.
What I really think: Debating. I really liked Dee's Maybe He Just Likes You, and certainly it's good to have books that help students process this sort of thing, but unlike Dee's book, I didn't feel that I had a good understanding of all three characters at the end of the book.
Ms. Yingling

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