Friend or Fiction

Charlesbridge. Oct. 2019. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781623541088.
Gr 3-5–In Jade’s Colorado town, people are always moving in and out. She’s had best friends and lost them, and she’s finally decided that the best way to keep a friend is to write one for herself. Zoe is everything she could ever want in a best friend, and their exploits are legendary—in Jade’s mind, at least. But when Zoe is brought to life by a quirky classmate and some magical pond water, Jade must deal with the day-to-day realities of having a formerly fictional best friend. At first, Zoe is content to be constantly guided by Jade. But is it real friendship when Zoe lacks agency? And is Jade neglecting other people in her life to devote all her time to perfecting her friendship with Zoe? Readers who also enjoy the craft of writing will find plenty to like here. Since Jade is an aspiring writer, there are plenty of writing tips, usually offered by Jade’s favorite teacher Mrs. Yang.
VERDICT This contemplative fantasy has plenty of character development and touches of magical realism. Offer to fans of Kate Messner and Sarah Weeks.

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