Parents' Guide to

Bad Best Friend

By Joly Herman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Eighth grader withstands friend rejection in funny story.

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Funny, moving, and at times a little too micro-dramatic, this story rewards with revelations about strength and identity. Bad Best Friend explores the kind of insecure am-I-part-of-the-popular-group? concerns that are common among tweens and teens. Niki's best friend Ava unceremoniously dumps her in front of the whole class -- indeed, in front of the whole tight-knit town -- leaving Niki to fend for herself. Kids will relate to the topic of wanting to fit in while figuring out who's being real and who's being hurtful. Niki's brother, Danny, is also relatable, as is her mom. Her dad, though well-intentioned, feels a little less real. But he's the exception to the cast of well-crafted characters.

Sometimes the voice, though funny, seems too sophisticated for the age group, like when Milo says he will "mansplain" to Niki how pedals on bikes work. It's funny, but not true to the age or small town they live in. The ending is satisfying, though, like the part in a romcom that you want to rewatch a couple of times, just to capture the magic. Author Rachel Vail succeeds in catching the moment when a person feels totally liberated after having a realization about her place in the scheme of things -- a refreshing revelation.

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