Middle Grade Monday: Real Friends

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

For as long as Shannon could be remember, it’s always been Shannon and Adrienne, Adrienne and Shannon. That is … until middle school.

Shannon doesn’t think that middle school will affect their friendship. And it doesn’t. But a new friend – Jen – will.

It seems that Adrienne is hanging out with Jen more and more. Because of that it seems that she’s ditching Shannon more and more. Shannon has to do something to save their friendship, but what?

Will becoming popular solve all her problems? Or will it become the problem that breaks up all of her friendships?

Real Friends, written by author Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is a realistic graphic novel that will surely resonate with, not only the intended audience, but all who pick it up. Whether you are a kid in middle school or you are like me – an adult with a full time job, this book has something for every reader.

There were many (many!) reasons why I enjoyed Real Friends. But the first reason is an obvious one: the writing. This isn’t Hale’s first rodeo – her writing is strong, engaging, and above all, has a “voice” all her own.

The second reason, another obvious reason, as to why I enjoyed this book was because of Pham’s illustrations. I enjoyed how her artwork was so realistic. Readers could look at the many faces within the illustrations and easily see themselves. Besides that, I loved how the illustrations not only enhanced Hale’s story, but they how they also told their own side of the same story.

The third, and maybe not so obvious reasons as to why I really enjoyed Real Friends, was that I found it to be authentic. The dialog felt true to the age the characters were portrayed to be. The situations were real and well realized – many kids more than likely experience exactly what young Shannon experienced. I also enjoyed how Hale didn’t shy away from the scary side of growing up. Hale doesn’t sugarcoat things, and as a reader I appreciated it, and feel that young readers will also appreciate it.