Friends Forever

First Second. (Friends: Bk. 3). Aug. 2021. 320p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781250317551; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250317568.
Gr 6-9–In Hale’s third graphic memoir, set in 1987, when the author was in eighth grade, things are looking up for Shannon—she has more friends, new interests, and even contact lenses—but she still struggles with self-doubt and intrusive thoughts of worthlessness. As Shannon matures, so do the problems she confronts. Friendships and family are complicated, and pressure mounts as she faces body image issues, relationships with boys, worries over her future career potential, and an unwanted sexual advance from a shopping mall Santa. Once again, Hale’s storytelling and Pham’s art get straight to the heart of adolescent pain and joy. Expressive use of color and line contrasts Shannon’s sometimes stark realities with her idealized daydreams, and her journey toward self-actualization is cleverly framed through magazine cover illustrations featuring aspirational yet anxiety-inducing headlines. Like its predecessors, this volume offers an achingly authentic depiction of growing up with mental health struggles, and readers will cheer Shannon’s eventual move toward self-acceptance as she is sustained by her creative storytelling abilities. The resolution is affirming and hopeful, indicating that although life has its ups and downs, Shannon is going to be OK—and an extensive author’s note from Hale emphasizes that nobody should weather mental illness alone.
VERDICT Reading this book is like getting a hug from a friend who knows exactly what you’re going through. An outstanding follow-up to the first two volumes, and a must for graphic novel collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing