Just Pretend by Tori Sharp is a fresh friendship story that is also familiar. Tenderly written, this graphic novel is realistic and relatable. While there is a moral, the main point is just come along for Tori’s journey.
We follow Tori after her parents have gotten divorced. With a feeling of being set in the 1990s (or around then), this book is timeless. The issues that divorced parents have, the issues siblings have with each other, and the issues children have with their parents allow you to be anytime, anyplace, anywhere. We see the confusion of having to remember if you are going to wake up in moms house or dad’s apartment (or his other apartment after he moves, again). We see Tori dealing with friendships and school. She wonders if she will have to hang out with her dad’s girlfriend again, or will he be home for dinner.
In the middle of all this, Tori finds solace in writing and illustrating her book. This mirrors her feelings and helps center her. The ups and downs of becoming a pre-teen and teen are all laid out before us, reminding us of our times there, or will show empathy and understanding as you go through it now. The book touches on emotions, disappointments, and the joys we face every day.
Ages 10 to 14 are most likely the best audience, but even as young as 8 could read. However, there are a few situations that might not be great for the more sensitive reader. An author afterwards ties everything together nicely at the end.