Not the Worst Friend in the World

Holiday House. Feb. 2024. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823454792.
Gr 4-6–Eleven-year old Lou Bennett has been adrift since the 10th day of sixth grade, when a fight with her best friend Francie left her an outcast at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School. That all changes when the new girl, Cece Clark-Duncan, passes Lou a cryptic note asking to meet. Cece is convinced there’s something sinister behind her family’s sudden arrival in town and her mother’s mysterious absence. Noticing that Lou keeps a Harriet the Spy–inspired notebook full of observations, Cece enlists her help tracking down her mother. With Cece, Lou sees a chance to redo her mistakes with Francie and prove that she can be a trustworthy friend. But Lou soon realizes that Cece’s situation may be more complicated than anticipated, and their new relationship might not survive the truth. Flashbacks to Lou and Francie’s bond are peppered throughout, slowly building up to the terrible fight that torpedoed their friendship. While the two mysteries lean toward the predictable, there’s enough tension to keep readers turning the pages. There are no clear heroes and villains here. Just characters who are realistically flawed, their shortcomings lovingly rendered, and the turmoil of sixth grade friendship empathetically depicted.
VERDICT A highly recommended story about friendship, family, and growing pains.

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