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The Kind of Friends We Used to Be
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What's the story?
Marilyn and Kate are trying really hard to be friends again. They used to be best friends, but last year things changed. Marilyn thinks life for Kate would be a lot easier if she just took her advice on fashion, and Kate thinks Marilyn spends too much time thinking about her hair and what other people think of her. Will they ever get on the same page and get their friendship back on track?
Is it any good?
Dowell does a great job of capturing the ups and downs of tween friendships, as well as the way friendships can naturally change as kids discover their own interests and passions. Marilyn and Kate are wonderful, warm characters that girls can really identify with, and the middle school situations they find themselves in are common and very well written, with a nice touch of humor.
Kate's fascination with guitars and huge black boots are completely opposite from Marilyn's love of cheerleading and fashion, and there doesn't seem to be much common ground. The novel does an effective job of showing how much work friendships can be, but also shows how important friendships are, and that the effort is worthwhile.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between dreaming about what will make you happy versus what will actually make you happy. Marilyn had the perfect 7th grade school year in her mind, but she finds that she's not totally happy once she begins to live her dreams. What does your perfect school year look like? Is it realistic? How does your vision fit with the friendships you currently have?