TBH, This Is So Awkward

224p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Feb. 2018. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780062689900.
Gr 4–7—Told mostly through emoji-laced text messages, TBH (to be honest) follows the sixth grade school year of three good friends, Prianka, Gabrielle, and Cecily. Their perfect friendship is disrupted by the arrival of Victoria, a new girl desperate to fit in. While Gabrielle and Prianka do not intentionally exclude Victoria, they consistently brush off Cecily's requests to include her, and never respond to her group texts. Their days are full of homework, crushes, a co-ed party, Gabrielle's possible move, and the upcoming Valentine's Day dance. But after Victoria's mother emails the principal about social cruelty and exclusion, the dance is canceled. Parents download an app to monitor their children's text messages, the girls fight, and, eventually, everyone learns important lessons about kindness, friendship, and spending too much time on their phones. Prianka and a boy named Vishal are the only explicitly non-white characters. Readers familiar with Hindu culture will recognize references to Bal Vishar. The characters in each text exchange are notated by their first initials at the beginning of the entry, which can create some confusion. The finished book will be in two colors which should help with tracking and make the emojis easier to see. While timely, the characters remain flat and the theme feels tacked onto a rather slight story line. Fans of the format, however, may be willing to overlook the book's flaws.
VERDICT A supplemental purchase for larger tween collections.

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