In the third installment of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s graphic Novel, we have read this story before: Eighth grader coming of age during the late 1980s. No matter the decade, subjects do not change as we still deal with friendships, boys, family, finding your friends, finding confidence, finding the right outfit. Still, the fact that this is based on Hale’s own growing up makes it more special to me (as I’m usually a fan of anything they write and we are of a similar age, therefore pop culture references are comfortable.).
Friends Forever shows that sometimes our BFF is not going to include the Forever part. Sometimes an old grade school friend will be mean to you, sometimes they will say “Hi” in the halls, but that’s it. Sometimes you will make new friends that last for years, others only for a short while. Sometimes a friend might have moved onto other things, and you have not. The familiar story of the dynamics of friendships once again is front and center and both educational and entertaining. The other part of the story is how Shannon starts to see her place not only within her friendships, but her family dynamic and the world around her. How people treat and allow different treatments of males and females is also touched on.
The illustrations are sweet, funny and give the tone of the story, but not making light of anything. This is a comfortable way of showing a contemporary reader the ups and downs of growing up in a nice way. And we the adult reader, can remember what a mixed up, crazy, cool time 8th grade was. If your child likes graphic novels and/or friendship stories, this is a great one to add to the collection. And while you can read it as a stand-alone, it does help to have read the first two in the series. Ages 8 to 13 (content is appropriate for most ages).