I heard about this wonderful series just before Best Friends came out. It sounded similar to Raina Telgemeier’s Smile series, so I knew I wanted to read it. And I’m so glad I did!
Real Friends: Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.
Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?
Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.
Best Friends: As Shannon grows a little older, the rules of friendship always seem to be changing, leaving her guessing and trying her best to just keep up. “Best Friends” shares its predecessor’s frankness, compassion, and enthralling, heartfelt visual storytelling. Junior high, as it turns out, is quite the roller coaster.
These two lovely graphic novels will really punch you in the gut. But they will also make you laugh and smile. If you’ve ever had trouble with friends (and who hasn’t?) then you will relate to Shannon.
Real Friends focuses on Shannon while she is in elementary school. She’s been best friends with one girl since they were little, but then her friend becomes friends with a really popular girl, and Shannon’s world becomes much more complicated. As she navigates through many turbulent relationships, she also struggles with anxiety and OCD and her relationship with her older sister.
Best Friends focuses on Shannon in sixth grade, when many things are changing—making new friends, holding on to old friends, hanging out with boys, LIKING boys. It’s a roller coaster ride. This book also focuses a bit more on Shannon’s anxiety and how she figures out she wants to be a writer (and this book includes a story that Shannon wrote in sixth grade!)
These two books, while in a series, can be read out of order. When characters in Real Friends show up in Best Friends, things are explained pretty succinctly, but it is still easy to understand.
Shannon is so easy to relate to—at least for me. I had a lot of friend troubles when I was her age, and it was so difficult to go through sometimes. The way she tries to navigate everything made so much sense. I cheered during her victories, and nearly broke down crying when it was so hard for her. Her struggles felt so real to me.
Shannon’s friends are shown in a very three-dimensional light. Not all good, not all bad. All friendships at any age can be very complex, and I felt this was depicted very well.
The art is amazing! I think it’s so clever how the artist grew the kids up (in Real Friends) but it was still obvious to see who was who. It’s a fun art style that isn’t too cartoon-y, but very appropriate for the age.
I will definitely be purchasing these two books, and wishing for more from Shannon Hale. Her writing is so much fun, and so relatable, I just need more of it. I definitely recommend these two kids who are struggling with friends, but I think adults will enjoy these books as well.