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From Barnes & NobleOur Review
I don't remember exactly how we became friends, but from the time I was two years old, Michelle was a permanent fixture in my life. As toddlers we had play dates and attended each other's birthday parties. In elementary school, we would get together on weekends, playing board games, going to G-rated movies, and dressing up our Barbie dolls. And by the time we were in fifth grade, we were inseparable. Our paths were entwined, and I couldn't fathom not being friends with Michelle. But of course, as we became teenagers, our lives changed, and our friendship gradually began to disintegrate.
There is help in understanding why Michelle and I drifted apart, found in Kimberly Kirberger's Teen Love: On Friendship: A Book for Teenagers, the latest book from the coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul series. All of the stories and poems in the 11 chapters are about teen friendship, and most are written by teens, making this not only a compelling read but a bible for understanding the degree to which young people change between childhood and adolescence.
For a long time, I wondered exactly why Michelle and I grew apart. Was it just me? The resounding answer is no. Story upon story demonstrates the varying dynamics of a relationship. For instance, in "So Many Times Before," young author Kate Florig writes about a trivial misunderstanding with her best friend: Kate cuts her hair in the style her friend had wanted for herself. They exchange mean notes and fight for weeks before their mothers force them to reconcile. Writes Kate, "I'd like to say that we picked right up where we had left off, but in reality our friendship was never quite the same after that."
As Kate experienced, life seldom does give us the kiss-and-make-up scenes of Dawson's Creek and Beverly Hills 90210. But in every conflict, every disappointment, and every achievement, there is something to be gained. Colin Mortensen of Real World Hawaii fame, who contributes to Teen Love: On Friendship: A Book for Teenagers, points out that it is essential not to stifle our own needs. He writes: "Growing apart from friends -- although painful -- can often make room for new friends and new experiences."
By the time I entered eighth grade, it was clear that my childhood friend and I were going in separate directions. Our yearbook superlatives seemed to forecast our future: Michelle was named Best Dressed, while I was labeled Future Yuppie. We found comfort in different groups that satisfied our individual needs, which had changed considerably since we had first met at age two. Kirberger, whose advice is sprinkled throughout the book, stresses the importance of being comfortable in your own skin: "[Being yourself] has to do with knowing yourself and liking yourself." Like most teenagers, we were figuring that out as we plodded along through high school.
Ultimately, the teens who contribute to Teen Love: On Friendship: A Book for Teenagers, are undergoing the same problems as their adolescent counterparts. But they bring clarity and self-awareness about topics such as love, loss, disappointment, and change to every page of this book, making it a treasure trove of advice on growing up.