Friday, December 31, 2021

Middle-Grade/Teen Review: Friends Forever

I recently read and enjoyed the middle-grade/teen graphic memoir, Friends Forever by Shannon Hale, with illustrations by LeUyen Pham. It is the third book in the trilogy of graphic memoirs that started with Real Friends and Best Friends. Like those first two books, this book is a warm, fun story of the author's middle school years, tackling several serious issues that many young teens face.

In this third book, Shannon is now in eighth grade. As the oldest ones in the school, Shannon expected this to be a great year, but she doesn't feel great. All of her friends are interested in boys (and vice-versa), but no boys seem to be interested in her. Besides, as much as she yearns for attention from boys, when they give it to her, it makes her feel uncomfortable. She wants to be perfect: successful and pretty and maybe even famous someday! But, instead she feels insecure and out of place and unsure of what she actually wants. Shannon is an high-achiever and a top student, but her Mormon upbringing (not mentioned by name in this book) keeps emphasizing that her only role as a woman is to get married and be a good wife and mother. She's just learned about the Equal Rights Amendment and thinks she might want more out of life. The one bright spot in her life is her drama class, which she loves, but what if she doesn't have what it takes to succeed even there? As Shannon's anxieties build and she dives into depression, she even drives away her friends and family. How will she resolve these problems and move forward into high school next year?

Sample pages from Friends Forever

As with the first two books in this trilogy, this last one is engaging, moving, and fun, though with some serious themes. Many of Shannon's difficulties--based on her own real experiences in eighth grade--mirror those of other young teens, struggling to figure out who they are in light of pressures from peers, parents, and society. The memoir takes place in 1987, but modern middle-schoolers and teens will certainly relate to Shannon's problems and stresses. Full-color drawings and lively dialogue bring Shannon and her friends to life on the page. There is a lot of fun woven into the story, alongside the issues and angst, much like real life for many teens. I enjoyed every volume of this outstanding trilogy, with this excellent wrap-up, and I can't wait to see what this team comes up with next!

304 pages, First Second

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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  1. I love it when favorite authors branch out into new genres like graphic novels or audiobooks.

    1. I didn't realize she wrote anything but graphic novels/memoirs! I had no idea she was so prolific.