The Kind of Friends We Use to Be by Francis O’Roark Dowell

kind-of-friends3Kate and Marylin have been best friends since pre-school.  Seventh grade is a lot different.  Marylin is a cheerleader, Kate isn’t.  She could careless about things like fashion. She wants to learn about being in a band. Poetry, guitars, being real.   So, the two long for their old friendship while going ahead with their separate lives.  Kate joins the writing club and meets a boy; Marylin gets elected to student government and meets a real friend.  Marylin’s campaign, started by Maisy the cheerleader in an effort to get better uniforms, turns into a real campaign when Marylin seeks Kate’s advice.   Kate and Marylin run a successful campaign and Marylin wins.  In the end, Kate and Marylin continue to explore who they are, while tweaking the boundaries of their lifelong friendship.  It’s okay to have different interests and different friends.

This is a sequel. I didn’t know that. I liked it on its own.  I love books that explore real friendships as this one does. Real friendship is complicated and is never black and white. Both Kate and Marylin are wise beyond their years. I was never that introspective as a 12 year old.  Still, I enjoyed this book very much.  I enjoyed that the story was told in different voices, not just Marylin and Kate, but other characters as well.  234 p. 2009. 

I listened to this on audiobook.  The reader, Jessica Almasy, has a young voice and accurately portrayed the lives of middle schoolers.  I enjoyed listening to her.  4 discs.Recorded Books, 2009.  SH 3/09


About SH

I'm a children's librarian in the western suburbs of Chicago. I've been involved with children's literature since working in a children's bookstore in 1990.
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