That’s What Friends Do

Harper/HarperCollins/. Jan. 2020. 352p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062888938.
Gr 5-7–David has decided to reveal his romantic feelings for longtime best friend Samantha—but he senses competition when Luke moves to town, and things get complicated. David leans in to kiss Sammie on the bus in an attempt to challenge Luke’s advances; but the bus’s motion leads to David accidentally touching Sammie inappropriately, and their friendship suffers. The book alternates between David’s and Sammie’s viewpoints as both make miscalculations about the incident. David is embarrassed and wants the issue to disappear, and Sammie doesn’t speak up about how uncomfortable it made her. Ultimately, their failure to be honest about their feelings causes pain for David, Sammie, and Luke, but their time apart also provides opportunities for them to reassess their friendship and their interests. David would rather be in the art club than on the baseball team. Sammie considers playing softball, a sport she had always considered too girlish. Ultimately, both Sammie and David learn to be honest about what happened on the bus and who they are becoming, with a resolution that feels realistic and age appropriate.
VERDICT Readers who are beginning to navigate more complicated emotions and personal boundaries will appreciate this story which deftly handles sensitive topics like inappropriate touching and body autonomy.

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