The Kind of Friends We Used to Be

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be

4.5 169
by Frances O'Roark Dowell
     
 

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Kate and Marylin are smack dab in the middle of middle school-seventh grade-and lately being stuck in the middle is starting to feel like a regular theme in both of their lives. They know that they can never be best friends like they used to be, not after Marylin became the kind of person who cares too much about hair (a.k.a. a middle school cheerleader). But, what if… See more details below

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Overview

Kate and Marylin are smack dab in the middle of middle school-seventh grade-and lately being stuck in the middle is starting to feel like a regular theme in both of their lives. They know that they can never be best friends like they used to be, not after Marylin became the kind of person who cares too much about hair (a.k.a. a middle school cheerleader). But, what if they still kind of want to be friends . . . and what if that's much harder than they ever imagined?

Well, it would be a lot easier if Kate could just accept some of Marylin's fashion advice. Ballet flats would look much better than those big black combat boots. Feminine. But, Kate doesn't want to be feminine. She wants to learn guitar and write her own songs; she wants to be the exact opposite of the middle school cheerleader. And, maybe if Marylin would just stick up for herself and not get bullied by Mazie into being the kind of popular that judges people for being different she and Kate could be real friends again.

But, that's just not the ways things work in middle school. Kate and Marylin can't be the people who everyone wants them to be, but at least they can keep each other company when they're stuck in the middle. Funny, realistic, and incredibly insightful, Edgar Award-winning novelist Frances O'Roark Dowell explores the shifting terrain of middle-school friendship in the second installment of the well-loved The Secret Language of Girls.

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Editorial Reviews

Mary Quattlebaum
This touching sequel to The Secret Language of Girls alternates perspectives between Kate and Marylin. This allows for a nuanced portrait of an evolving friendship…By building sympathy for both characters, Frances O'Roark Dowell creates an emotionally complex story of girls going their separate ways but managing to reconnect, sometimes in a funny and poignant fashion.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

This sequel to Dowell's The Secret Language of Girls follows Marylin and Kate as they start seventh grade on a tense note, having drifted from being BFFs to being neighbors who tiptoe around each other, unsure of what to say. The third-person perspective shifts between the two: Marylin learns that being a cheerleader means putting up with obnoxious snobs, and Kate develops an interest in songwriting. This even-handedness is both a strength and a weakness. Both girls are sympathetic but the constant switching back and forth between their various crises-Marylin's parents' divorce; Kate's anxiety over a cute boy in her creative writing club-means neither girl's story gets substantial treatment. It's more a slice of middle school life, kept afloat by Dowell's smart insights into the way the middle school mind works. The territory is familiar, but for girls on either end of a friendship whose contours keep changing, Dowell's treatment will act as a balm. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

This insightful sequel to The Secret Language of Girls (S & S, 2004) stands alone, but readers will want to go back and find out more about these engaging characters. Kate and Marylin used to be best friends, but sixth grade changed things. Now, as seventh graders, they are trying to work their way back to the way things "used to be." But it's not so easy when they are so different; Kate's new passion is the guitar-and her heavy black boots-while Marylin, a cheerleader, is determined to be feminine and popular at all costs. Alternating points of view make it easy for readers to relate to both girls as they navigate friendship, romance, and family relationships. Dowell gets middle-school dynamics exactly right, and while her empathetic portraits of Kate and Marylin are genuine and heartfelt, even secondary characters are memorable. A realistic and humorous look at the trials and tribulations of growing up and growing independent.-Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI

Kirkus Reviews
"Do you ever miss it?" Marylin asks Kate. "Being all-the-time friends, like we used to be?" The protagonists of 2005's The Secret Language of Girls return, their sixth-grade year having found these two BFFs drifting apart. One year further along, they are still negotiating their new relationship, cheerleader Marylin desperate to help her friend not seem quite so "weird," while budding rocker Kate declares, "I'm good the way I am." At school, the girls occupy their separate orbits, finding new friends and new interests while still checking in with each other. Marylin's decision to run for student government provides her the opportunity to define herself and to develop a more mature friendship with Kate. The shifting third-person narrative follows each girl in turn, investing both with clearly distinct and highly sympathetic personalities that lead them in occasionally criss-crossing directions; the questions they ask themselves as they try out new identities arise naturally and their answers are always disarmingly honest. Dowell's characteristically sensitive exploration of the inner lives of these two girls will resonate long and loud. (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416950318
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
01/06/2009
Series:
Secret Language of Girls Trilogy Series, #2
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,440,848
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
950L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Frances O’Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Award; Where I’d Like to Be; the bestselling The Secret Language of Girls and its sequels The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away; Chicken Boy; Shooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Medal; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; Falling In; the critically acclaimed The Second Life of Abigail Walker; Anybody Shining; and the teen novel Ten Miles Past Normal. She lives with her husband and two sons in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at FrancesDowell.com.

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