Real Friends – Shannon Hale

31145178Real Friends by Shannon Hale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: First Second Books
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 8+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Friendship, Middle School

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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?


No way. I can’t believe how great this book is. If I were a wealthy schoolteacher, I’d gift this to all of my students.

This is unlike any memoir I’ve ever read. For starters, it’s a graphic novel, so it’s not your usual memoir. Also, since Shannon Hale is obsessed with stories, there are stories within this story. It’s really special.

Truthfully, the plot isn’t exceptional. I mean, it’s about a girl in middle school who has trouble making friends, and even when she makes them, she has trouble keeping them. There is bullying involved, but lots of happy moments as well.

I’m sure there are thousands of books exploring friendship in middle school. So what makes this story worth your time? Mini Shannon Hale, that’s for sure. She is absolutely relatable. She, herself, is not the popular type, and yet, her honesty, quirkiness and friendliness make her someone you’d want to be around. She sees the world differently and that makes her interesting.

I remember having trouble making friends in middle school as well. Like Shannon, things started well, but kids have a flare for drama, so there were tears and sadness involved in my childhood too. Shannon Hale wanted readers to be able to say, ‘‘That’s exactly how I felt!’’ and I think she succeeded.

Because it’s a memoir illustrating S. Hale’s life from first grade to fifth grade—those are five years!—it progresses really fast. I liked that about it. Not too fast to seem like the author doesn’t touch on anything substantial. Just very, very well. But then again that’s how it has to be, since this is a short book.

The graphics are wonderful. I know I’ve only praised S. Hale so far, but the reality is this book wouldn’t have been half as engrossing if LeUyen Pham hadn’t done such a fantastic job of bringing S. Hale’s past to life. I can’t wait to read THE PRINCESS IN BLACK, since I read she was the illustrator for that one too.

I can’t stress this enough. Kids need to read this book.


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One thought on “Real Friends – Shannon Hale

  1. Interesting! I love Shannon Hale, but I hadn’t heard of this book. I agree with you about the originality of the plot–I can probably name 10 middle grade books off the top of my head that deal with the “changing friend groups” theme. Though I am intrigued by the idea that it’s a memoir for middle schoolers.


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