Best Frenemies Forever

Scholastic. May 2022. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338722499.
Gr 3-7–Sophie, newly best-friendless, is wading through a lonely summer and dreading seventh grade when confident neighbor Kaytee moves in. Sophie is delighted that Kaytee wants to be friends, especially since Kaytee is going to attend a private school; Kaytee will never know that Sophie has been ditched by her former best friend and is the target of ongoing bullying by the popular, social media-savvy squad that her former friend has joined. Sophie’s guilt-inducing small lies about being popular morph into more complicated ones as the groups of girls encounter each other and Kaytee eventually switches to Sophie’s school. Sophie knows she is awkward, but doesn’t know how to change it. She admires Kaytee’s “cool girl confidence” and convinces herself that “what Kaytee doesn’t know will only help our friendship grow.” Kaytee has her own embarrassing past, the truth of which slowly unfolds. Sophie takes advantage of this secret before the girls ultimately reconcile. This is a sequel in the “Mercer Middle School” series, but can stand alone for new readers. The girls’ friendship rings true, as do the instances of bullying and the lingering hurt of a friendship ending unexpectedly. Even with short chapters, the story occasionally lags, and the heavy-handedness of Sophie’s parents’ beliefs occasionally get in the way of the story, despite playing a part in Sophie’s own mindset. Most characters are cued as white.
VERDICT Despite some shortcomings, the always-relevant topic of friendship drama makes this title an acceptable choice where there is need.

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