Real Friends -- Book Review

Disclosure: Macmillan Publishers gave me copies of these books free of charge to review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

It always amazes me when I get a book at the perfect time for something in our lives. Today's book is one of those perfectly timed occurrences. Hazel has had a really tough school year and has had several issues with her classmates (as well as her teacher). A few weeks ago we pulled her from her school and I am homeschooling her for the rest of the year. She was in a very bad emotional state and we knew we had to get her out of it. She is mostly back to her normal happy self and will be once we have chosen a school for next year and that anxiety can be put to rest. The most important thing for us in choosing this school will be the classmates and the potential friends. Today's book helps her see that she is not the only one who has struggled with friends in school. The book is Real Friends by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Now just seeing the author and illustrator was enough for me to know Hazel would love this book. They are also one of the authors and the illustrator of the Princess in Black series, which we love!!

This book is a graphic novel based on Shannon Hale's own memories of elementary school. She has changed the names of all the characters besides her own. She has a wonderful author's note that explains the story is based on her memories which of course are different than the other people's memories. She is hoping that by sharing her story other kids will realize they are not alone in struggling with friends and such. Shannon goes from being at the bottom of the popular group to leaving the group and struggling to find her own place, but eventually having the popular group members asking to join her new group which isn't really a group but more just nice friends. 

I showed Hazel the book after it sat on my shelf for a week or so. She read it that day and then reread it. In fact she has read it at least five times already and insisted that I read it to her as well. She LOVES this book. I don't think she has really realized the complete similarities between her own situation and the story Shannon shares, but I do think reading it gives her hope. Shannon manages to find some real friends and people who just wanted to be kind and care about each other. We are hoping Hazel will find such friends at her next school. 

Now we have all seen these different types of friends. There are the ones who feel like there are rules to their friendships and it can be hard to keep up. This is how Shannon feels about the group. She stays in it because her best friend is in it and she doesn't know what she will do without them. However when it gets too hard to be part of this competitive group, she leaves it and is left by herself. No one wants to be play with her, but then she meets some girls who are nice to everyone and they let her join them at recess and lunch and more of their friends invite her to play and she becomes the envied one. This book also touches on the difficult relationship of siblings. Shannon is the middle child of five and struggles with her older sister. Their relationship is very tense so Shannon at her lowest is struggling both at home and at school and not feeling all that great about herself. This book hits on so many issues that often seem so huge for children. I think this is really a great book for every child to read and learn more about friendship. I hope you will check it out!!