Friday, August 25, 2017

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham


When best friends are not forever . . .

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it's worth the journey.


Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors.  I've read most of what she's written.  I was definitely intrigued when I heard about this graphic novel based on her own childhood memories.  It's not entirely memoir as Shannon herself explains in the back of the book.  After all, human memory is certainly fallible and no two people experience the same situation in exactly the same way.  Plus, she's changed a lot of names.  But it's clear that the emotion behind the story is real. It certainly felt real to me, maybe because I could relate to some of the struggles that young Shannon has making, keeping, and losing friendships.  Friendship can be a tricky thing, especially when clicks get involved as they so often do in elementary/middle school.  

When Shannon's dear friend, Adrienne, becomes part of "The Group", she tags along, hoping that she isn't going to lose her one and only friend.  And she doesn't, not exactly, but she's not fully welcomed into "The Group" either.  As Shannon's relationships with her friends fluctuate, she struggles with the unkindness that occurs as well as her own anxieties and frequent illnesses.  In addition to her confusion about her friends, she struggles to get along with her older sister, Wendy.  Shannon's dream of being a writer slowly develops as she works hard to figure out how to handle her relationship difficulties.

LeUyen Pham does a phenomenal job illustrating Shannon's experiences.  Not only does each person shine through in personality and appearance but Pham uses her own imagination to show the imaginative play that Shannon so enjoyed with her friends (I loved how Shannon always imagined her self as a strong female superhero of sorts, this so reminded me of the games I loved to play as a kid).  In addition, demonstrating in a sometimes amusing, but often sad way the challenging relationship that Shannon had with her sister, Wendy is sometimes depicted as a giant, rather intimidating bear.  

This is a book that is bound to be loved just like Rain Telgemeier's Smile and Sisters, simply because young readers will be able to relate to it so well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Story Time kit by Kristin Aagard