Surprisingly Sarah (Emmie & Friends) by Terri Libenson is the seventh installment of Libenson’s Emmie & Friends series. It is perfectly their signature style dealing with Lakeside school and the middle schoolers that go there. There are the typical growing pains, and how each character a book focuses on goes through them. And while each character has dealt with similar things, no two characters’ stories are exactly alike. And like previous graphic novels, the other characters pop up showing where we are in the timeline of things as stories overlap.
However, this time they are trying something slightly different. We have seen two characters narrating one book before, but this time the characters tell their stories by having four POVs happening at once. The first is Sarah’s POV (our main character and BGF Best Girl Friend, not GIRLfriend) and the second is Leo’s POV (Sarah’s BBF Best Boy Friend, not BOYfriend). The third is the fact that one version of the story has Sarah asking her crush, Ben (Leo’s other best friend), to the dance, and the fourth POV is that she does not invite him to the dance. The ending brings both stories almost to the same point with two different paths, with some overlapping information.
Yet, all of these points of view are mixed into the POVs of Sarah and Leo. While there are notes that clue you into which timeline we are following, it can be confusing. However, the idea of friendship, romance, the grass is greener at the other school and family dynamics are interesting, and is done well overall. The dual art styles also help clue us into who is speaking/showing which POV we are in.
And as I said, each book overlaps another character’s story, making no one in a bubble, while still focusing on one person. This might be my favorite part of things, but also it had been so long since I had read some of them, that I had forgotten characters or the plots. I am seeing the potential for at least three more titles in the series.