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The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Middle Grade Memoir Engaging and Empowering

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Good friends are tough to find.  Shannon learns this lesson the hard way when Adrienne, her longtime BFF, decides to hang out with Jen, the most popular girl in school.  Jen is the leader of The Group, an exclusive clique to which only the coolest, most well-liked girls belong.  Some will do anything to be part of The Group, even if it means being mean to others.  Shannon wants in, but is it really worth it if she has to do things she doesn't want to do?  If she doesn't impress Jen and Co., who will be her friend?  She doesn't want to be alone, but it's a pain pretending to be someone she's not.  Will she and Adrienne work things out?  Or is Shannon destined to be the loneliest little girl in the world?
Graphic novels are all the rage at my daughter's elementary school, with Raina Telgemeier being the reigning author-queen.  In the wake of her bestselling graphic memoirs, others have turned their stories—both real and fictional—into compelling, kid-pleasing illustrated books.  Real Friends by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, tells a true (although fictionalized when needed to fill in the memory gaps) story that will resonate with anyone who's ever felt alone.  All kids will relate to her desire to fit in and find acceptance.  Not only is the book dynamic with engaging, eye-catching illustrations, but it teaches important lessons about kindness, inclusion, and choosing friends who appreciate you for you.  A clean, endearing read, Real Friends is an excellent book to hand to young readers, especially those who might be struggling in the same way Hale did.  Authentic and empowering, I can't recommend this one highly enough.  I loved it.

(Readalikes:  similar to books by Raina Tegelmeier)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and mild bathroom humor

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed a copy of Real Friends from my daughter's elementary school library as part of my volunteer work with the school's reading program.


  1. I've heard good things about this one and I love to read graphic novels.


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