Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Last Best Friend


Bowe, Julie. 2007. My Last Best Friend.

I enjoyed My Last Best Friend right from the start:

"I'm Ida May, and there's one thing I know. Fourth grade isn't fourth at all. Fourth means you've done something at least three times before. But fourth grade is nothing like third grade. Or second grade. Or first grade.
In fourth grade there is no more printing There is only cursive. I hate cursive.
In fourth grade you are not allowed to add and subtract. You are only allowed to multiply and divide.
In fourth grade you're a baby if you still want to play with Barbies. Or if the Tooth Fairy still comes to your house. Or if you want your mother to walk you to the bus stop. Third grade is the last grade you can get by with any of that. Trust me." (1)

Our narrator, Ida May, is great. I found her voice to be believable. And I cared for her almost immediately. Ida May's "problems" are authentic ones. Her best friend has moved away. She's starting a new school year, and she doesn't have--make that doesn't want--another best friend. She's a bit intimidated by some of the other kids in her class. Especially by the mean, bully Jenna Drews. And she just wishes it would all go away. Her parents just don't understand. (As an adult, I can see that they just want their child to be "happy." And sometimes to get to that happy place later--further on in the future--you've got to be pushed into doing some things you just don't like in the here and now.) But Ida May feels her parents are always pushing and prodding and picking on her when it comes to the "friends" issue. (They want her to have friends and to be popular and part of the crowd instead of isolated on her own.)

What she finds is a friend through a pen pal. Stacey Merriweather is the new girl. On the surface, she's best pals with the "evil" Jenna Drews. But Ida May feels that maybe just maybe Stacey isn't what she seems. That beneath the surface, there's someone there that would be her friend. Ida knows Stacey is a liar. That she's not telling the truth. That she's keeping secrets. And before Ida risks revealing herself, she wants a few reassurances, promises. Thus a correspondence begins between Anastasia (Stacey) and Cordelia (Ida). She's able to be herself, her true self, on paper and really begins to open up again to the possibility of friendship and happiness.

Life. School. Friendship. Bullies. Family.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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