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The Kind of Friends We Used to Be

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be

4.6 170
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


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.

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)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Secret Language of Girls Trilogy Series , #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 5.24(h) x 0.68(d)
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 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; Ten Miles Past Normal; Trouble the Water; and most recently the Sam the Man series. She lives with her husband and two sons in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at FrancesDowell.com.

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The Kind of Friends We Used to Be 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 170 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My bestfreind is dyslexic and reading is frustrating for her so she tries to avoid it but when she saw the cover of the book she immeteatly checked it out of the library wich is sooooo not like her. She read this book in a week it was the biggest book she ever read and the fastest she ever read a book. This book caused her to want to come with me to the library every other school day at study hall!! This book actually made an IMPACT ON A DYSLEXIC CHILDS LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!! This should proove you should read it!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are in middle school (6th grade) this is real good book to read. Plus it helps give you a taste of what is going to happen in 7th grade.
cinammonbunny More than 1 year ago
this book is SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i give it a 1,000,0000 STAR RATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book couldnt put it down every part was AWSOME!!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
The friendship adventures of Kate and Marylin continue in THE KIND OF FRIENDS WE USED TO BE. The girls were in sixth grade in THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS, and now they are in seventh.

Marylin continues to hang out with the cheerleaders, although she is gradually beginning to realize that the controlling Mazie does not always have her best interests in mind. When Marylin meets Rhetta, the new girl, she never dreams that they could have so much in common. Rhetta's gorgeous anime drawings of fairies remind Marylin of the stories she constantly imagines but never has the courage to put down on paper. Their unlikely friendship gives Marylin the inspiration to stay a cheerleader but not follow the crowd just for the sake of following.

Kate also makes some new and different friendship connections. Who would have guessed that Flannery, who just a year ago had made Kate feel so awful, could possibly become someone with whom she can share some of her most personal thoughts with? When Kate decides to move from an interest in basketball to taking up the guitar, Flannery provides the support and encouragement Kate needs. Kate also finds another musical kindred spirit when she meets Matthew Holler. He is not like the other boys. He recognizes her need to be something other than a girly-girl, and he really listens and cares about the song lyrics she feels driven to create.

Both Kate and Marylin realize their friendship will survive the test of time, but they also realize that they will both need other friends to support them as their interests and needs change.

Once again, Frances O'Roark Dowell tells a story that will connect with middle grade readers. She covers the topics of struggling friendships, divorcing parents, and the need to be an individual - all subjects that complicate the growing up process.

Both THE KIND OF FRIENDS WE USED TO BE and THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS would be excellent additions to any middle grade classroom or library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books i ever read! I would recomond this to the girls even if your like a tomboy this book and relate to you it did to me. There are lots of details and it never gets boring. I would say this is a fifth or sixth grade book there are some big words , but its amazing i can relate to this book and i hope the author writes more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. Love the author. Dont think. Just BUY!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a nice book to read but you should read the first book before this one. You will enjoy this book
Sunia Piermont More than 1 year ago
Very good book, but can be boring at some parts but otherwise excellent book to read.
cheryl alphonso More than 1 year ago
I wish there was a real girl like Kate because we really relate. I like to be myself. I want to learn guitar and i am a sort of songwriter. I also have a pretty word list sort of thing. And i have had bff friendship problems. But i t got fixed. I treasure this book eith my whole heart. I will always remember every word and detail from this book :')
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Real preteens and early teen girls can relate to it. They can look at the difficulties the book characters have and find solutions. Wonderful book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is on of the most fantastic books i have ever read! The sign of how two froemds try to work things out together and not get bullied. :) <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was heart touching and a book that almost any girl can relate to. The two friends Marylin and Kate go through hard times. Looks of a person are not their exact personality. Along the way, the two friends meet people who the popular croud think are not as good as them so they treat them differently, ignoring them and acting like they are weird or insane and are not worthy like they 'are.' They learn that the populars are only people who care about themseleves. But really, the friends that realy count were the friends that actually had a true heart. Friends like Rhetta, someone who Marylin meets and is the only true friend that stuck by her when she needed a friend the most. Matthew, someome who Kate meets which she happens to have a crush on but still, Matthew has been an amaxing person to talk to and won't turn his back on you just because you talk back or doen't agree with him. Those are the friends that really count. Friends that Marylin and Kate both meet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is simply one word: AWESOME! I love how it describes something so common between normal/regular friendships. It's very easy to picture yourself in that situation, because almost everybody has gone through it. I would rate this book a million bajillion stars if I could! This book is a must read for girls between the ages of 11 to 14!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is AWSOME! u NEED to read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Kind of Friends we Used to Be is a great book! It was written by Frances O' Roark Dowell. The genre of this book is realistic fiction. It is about two girls who find difficulties in their relationship with each other. Marylin and Kate are best friends until seventh grade. They slowly lose their friendship and change throughout the story. Marylin is a very girly, popular cheerleader. On the other hand, Kate is a very dark, outgoing basketball player and songwriter. The girls have been best friends and are now neighbors. When Marylin starts to become closer with her cheering friends, Kate starts feeling abandoned. Kate first starts by hanging out with a girl named Flannery. They knew each other from school, but Flannery was a year older. They find out that they have things in common such as playing guitar and writing songs. Kate looks up to Flannery and decides she needs some work on her songwriting. Kate then joins a creative writing group and lets her imagination run. She meets people with the same interests and makes new friends. She also broadens her songwriting and becomes good at it. While Kate is busy making new friends, Marylin starts to feel out of place with the cheerleaders. Marylin gets pushed around by the cheer captain Mazie. Marylin then meets a girl named Rhetta. Rhetta is artistic and creative and doesn't care what people think about her. Marylin is surprised that she likes the same things as Rhetta, even though she isn't a cheerleader. She feels that she can be open with Rhetta and doesn't have to be someone that she's not. When the cheerleaders start to ignore Marylin because they see her with Rhetta, Marylin decides she doesn't care either. She realizes that even though she is a cheerleader, she doesn't have to follow in their shadow of being judgmental. Finally, Marylin and Kate find their way back to each other. Marylin misses Kate and likes being her friend. Kate missed Marylin too and they realize that they shouldn't try to change one another. They both find out that they should be themselves and its okay to have more than one best friend. They both needed people to support them with the changes going on in both of their lives. I liked this book because the author used real live situations between the two girls and it was easy to relate to. The book gives opinions on things from both Marylin's side and Kate's side of a situation. It deals on a lot of problems teens deal with when growing up. It shows that it's a good thing to have more than one best friend. Another thing this book taught me was to not always go along with the crowd and it's better to just be yourself. This is a really good book and I would definitely recommend it.
Kennedie Goulding More than 1 year ago
I love this book!!! I love the sequel to it also. This is one of the best books I have ever read!!! I definetly recommend it!!!
Blanca Zapien More than 1 year ago
Alexis Lagerholm More than 1 year ago
Made me feel like this is real.... mostly cause it sounds somewhat like my life except i dont play guitar and i feel like awesomeness :)
Sonja Gould More than 1 year ago
Its a great read for young girls! Its inspiring makes me want to learn how to play guitar :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i got this on my nook color,it was amasing!We have this book at school,and my friend and i are just like that!!!!!!My friends is the pretty girl and i am the rock star kind of girl!!!!!!!It's not even funny that we are alike in this book.So recommened this to everyone who likes friendship stories.I give it a thumbs up and 5 stars!!!!!!!!AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GET THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!! It is awsome I love it!!!!!!!!!Worth the money!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am just like Kate so i could totally relate to this story. This was an awesome book. Loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in the middle of it loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8 Year old girl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book but how come you can't get the first one on your nook?