The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Kate and Marylin are best friends forever…. 

Well, except for last year when they weren’t friends anymore….

And except for this year when they both want to be friends again, but just don’t know how.

But the thing is, even as they are trying to fix their broken friendship, they are becoming more and more unalike. And that’s becoming harder and harder to deal with. Well, it would be a lot easier if Kate would just take some of Marylin’s fashion advice. Ballet flats would look so much better than those big black combat boots. Feminine. But Kate doesn’t want to be feminine. She wants to learn guitar and write her own songs; she wants to be the exact opposite of the middle-school cheerleaders. And maybe if Marylin would just stick up for herself and not get bullied by Mazie (the Meanest Cheerleader Ever) into judging anyone who’s the least bit different, Marylin and Kate could be real friends again.

(Note: I reviewed this book; the sequel/follow up to The Secret Language of Girls also by Frances O’Roark Dowell, instead of The Secret Language of Girls because I felt that this book was better. These books are fine by themselves, and it’s easy to understand them even if you haven’t read the other book).

Many books don’t do the whole best friend breakup thing very well, despite the fact that it’s such a widely touched-upon subject in MG lit, but THE KIND OF FRIENDS WE USED TO BE does. It captures how it feels to leave someone behind, and the self-conflict that comes with all of that. I could relate to both Marylin and Kate, and the entire time I wanted them to get back together but I didn’t think they could.

Dowell does a fantastic job working with the characters in order to create a narrative that is believable. The plot digressed or slowed sometimes, but for the most part, I loved this novel.

3.8 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 240

Previous book: The Secret Language of Girls


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