Middle-Grade Friendships

The Friendship Lie by Rebecca Donnelly

Publication Date: August 1, 2019

Summary from NetGalley:

Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels–to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster. But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: Things don’t always go where they’re supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. Written by Rebecca Donnelly, author of How to Stage a Catastrophe (an Indies Introduce and Indie Next List honoree), The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

ARC provided by Capstone via NetGalley for an honest review.

It is often so hard for me to tell with ARC’s how much more work the publisher’s and authors might do on a book before publishing. This one could have done with a bit more polishing which I hoped it received because at it’s core it is a very good story that I think kids will enjoy.

What went right:
  • Both Cora and Sybella are very engaging kids. You could tell that they just had that bond that will keep them friends even through the tough times.
  • I really liked Kyle, Cora’s twin brother. He was such a delight throughout the whole book.
  • Marni is the new girl, who is very annoying and is the instigator of the whole troubles. I think kids will sympathize with her.
  • I enjoyed learning more about garbage and recycling. A message that many still need to hear. It was done in some pretty neat ways as well, such as their birthday presents being wrapped in plain paper as opposed to wrapping paper.
  • Although we don’t hear a lot about their imaginary world Aquafaba, what we do know was a lot of fun and quite imaginative. I think 5th graders will like to know that it is still ok to imagine.
  • The friendship drama was well done and the message of having to admit things when you are wrong was done with just the right amount of emotions.
What went wrong:
  • I mentioned above that I liked the recycling message that the book had and I do, but it was pushed maybe just a tad too much. It was pretty constant in everything these kids did.
  • There was a constant switching back and forth in the timeline without much warning. This I think is a formatting issue too, as sometimes there wasn’t a break in the text. Better chapter headings would help with this.
  • This next point is a bit hard without spoiling, but the whole diary thing just didn’t work for me and it didn’t really seem to mesh with the overall plot of the story. It did help Cora come to the conclusion that she needed to apologize to Sybella, before it was too late.

Overall this was a good story, it just needed a little bit more work to smooth out the edges. I think though that kids will like and appreciate that the author has captured what it is like to be that age and to have friendship troubles.

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