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Real Friends (Friends, 1) Hardcover – May 2, 2017

4.8 out of 5 stars 2,848 ratings
Book 1 of 2: Best Friends

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 3–6—Hale revisits her elementary school years in this insightful exploration of the ups and downs of friendship. Young Shannon meets her BFF Adrienne in kindergarten, and the two bond until Adrienne moves away. When Adrienne returns, Shannon is thrilled—until Adrienne joins a clique. In over her head, Shannon copes with feelings of inadequacy as she compares herself to pretty and seemingly perfect ringleader Jen, as well as resentment and intense anxiety as callous Jenny throws barbs her way. There's trouble at home, too: middle child Shannon often feels lost and is bullied by older sister Wendy. The author reflects on her life from the vantage point of adulthood, displaying a mature awareness of her own flaws and an understanding of the behavior of unsympathetic kids such as Wendy and Jenny, and her accessible writing and hopeful tone will speak to readers. Pham's gentle cartoon images make effective use of perspective and composition to underscore Shannon's sense of alienation. Her various flights of fancy reinforce her budding storytelling abilities and provide relatable metaphors (for instance, Shannon imagining her friends as members of a royal court and herself as the jester). In Hale's afterword, she acknowledges that though she attempted to faithfully represent her experiences, she re-created some dialogue and made changes for the sake of the plot. VERDICT This tender, perceptive graphic memoir is bound to resonate with most readers, especially fans of Raina Telgemeier and kids struggling with the often turbulent waters of friendships and cliques.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Review

“In Real Friends, Shannon Hale reflects on her own friendship-troubled elementary school years with honesty, humor and grace . . . Her readers will find much to love here, including LeUyen Pham’s brilliant and multilayered art . . . These detailed memories of elementary school will ring hilariously true to adult readers . . . At the same time, stories of whispered rumors and being left out will be achingly familiar for readers navigating those waters in the here and now.” ―author Kate Messner, writing in the New York Times Book Review

“The book's truth is as vibrant as its art.” ―Washington Post

“A heart-stabbing tale of the everyday social agonies of girlhood.” ―Wall Street Journal

“Real Friends tackles bullying, childhood anxiety, and growing pains in a heartfelt way that’ll transport every woman who went to elementary school back into her days as a young girl . . . but the book also shows us the incredible kindness and solidarity that girls can and do display.” ―The Mary Sue

“A wistful, affecting, and utterly charming exploration of the realities of childhood friendship.” ―Booklist, starred review

“This tender, perceptive graphic memoir is bound to resonate with most readers, especially fans of Raina Telgemeier and kids struggling with the often turbulent waters of friendships and cliques.” ―School Library Journal, starred review

“A wonderfully observed portrait of finding one’s place in your world.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Readers will appreciate Shannon's fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Hand this book to fans of Raina Telgemeier’s and Cece Bell’s graphic memoirs.” ―Horn Book

“The author’s memoir nails what it’s like to navigate elementary-school friendships.” ―Parents Magazine

“Pham’s visual version of Hale expresses everything, with bright creativity and intense emotional suffering warring across her face, her body posture, and even in her gait. Hale fans will appreciate the look behind the curtain at where some of her amazing book ideas are rooted, and kids who have struggled with the complexity of grade school friendships, i.e., any kid, will find comfort that the dark days can be survived.” ―The Bulletin

Real Friends is honest and heartfelt, and sure to be loved by anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. The artwork is stunning, too!” ―Victoria Jamieson, New York Times–bestselling and Newbery Honor author of Roller Girl

“Fresh, fun, and achingly real. Bravo!” ―Jennifer L. Holm, New York Times–bestselling and Newbery Honor author and co-creator of Sunny Side Up and the Babymouse series

“Real Friends made me laugh, broke my heart, and gave me hope. This book is SO GOOD. SO MANY FEELS.” ―Gene Luen Yang, New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award Finalist author of American Born Chinese

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ First Second (May 2, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1626724164
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1626724167
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 - 12 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ GN290L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 4 - 6
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.79 x 0.78 x 8.26 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 2,848 ratings

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
2,848 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2017
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3.0 out of 5 stars She said it was really good, so I read it
By Joy Peterson on December 10, 2017
My daughter (8) read this in one sitting. She said it was really good, so I read it. I didn't appreciate The 2nd grade character getting kissed by a boy (aggressively while her friend was held back to keep her from stopping him). The girl got mad at The main character for stopping the kiss - she wanted to be kissed. I don't want my 2nd grader thinking those are ok actions to have our accept. The area I found most disturbing was when the character talked about dying to make all the bad feelings stop. I was caught off guard that my 2nd grader had that small little push that maybe that was an ok solution to handling life's problems. Otherwise, I felt like I was reading the script for Mean Girls. If anything, it gave me some talking points to have with my daughter to remind her acting like the girls in the book was not ok and everyone should be included. I'd provably recommend waiting until a little older to read this book and be prepared to follow up with questions/ answers.
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Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Readers Will Relate!
By Amanda Schreiber on May 28, 2017
Im a fifth grade teacher and I read this memoir cover to cover in just one sitting! Shannon Hale tells a story that will provide a mirror for so many middle grade readers! From anxiety, to bullying & feeling alone - so many kids will relate! Hopefully, readers will see that they are not alone & that nice friends are out there! Also, don't let kids skip the author's note at the end - meaningful insights that could benefit any reader.

Enjoyed so much that I added it to my Mock Newbery 2018 book list. Note: I'm not sure if a memoir can win the Newbery but I know this book is worth sharing & discussing with young readers!
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Top reviews from other countries

Emily Gray
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 26, 2020
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Simmsy
4.0 out of 5 stars easy read - zipped through it really quickly
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 21, 2018
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Mr J Movsoumov
5.0 out of 5 stars Review for Real Friends
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 9, 2020
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EMILYREADSLEEPEATREPEAT
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 10, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 20, 2019
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