Thursday, February 1, 2024

Not the Worst Friend in the World by Anne Rellihan

Can Lou Bennett keep a secret? She’ll do just about anything to prove herself to her new friend—and the best friend she betrayed—in this debut novel that is a modern-day Harriet the Spy with high emotional stakes.

It’s the thirty-fourth day of sixth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Missouri, and eleven-year-old Lou wishes she could rewind time.

Lou wants to go back to the ninth day of sixth grade—the day before she fought with her best friend Francie and said the terrible, horrible things she can’t unsay. Or better yet, she would go back to fifth grade when Francie was still the Old Francie.

Then the new girl, Cece Clark-Duncan, passes Lou a mysterious note. It says she was kidnapped. (!) If Lou can help Cece, maybe she can prove she’s not the world’s worst friend.

But as observant Lou uncovers the complicated truth about Cece’s family, she starts to panic. Can she help Cece without hurting her? Or will Lou end up losing another friend instead?

Anchored by an outstanding voice and a page-turning mystery, this remarkable debut novel honors the powerful middle school friendships that can both break and heal a tender eleven-year-old heart. Perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and My Jasper June.

Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Expected publication February 6, 2024
 by Holiday House
3.5/5 stars

I have never read Harriet the Spy, but apparently this is a modern day retelling of it. Eleven year old Lou went a bit too far one day and has become friendless in the sixth grade. Can she go back and write the wrongs or just live with what she did?

This was a fun read about the joys of childhood friendships. Especially when a new girl enters the scene bringing with her mysterious notes, a mysterious past and seeking Lou's help. Can she redeem herself with her new friend? Time will tell.

Since I’ve never read Harriet the Spy, I can’t vouch for the similarities, but suffice to say, this was a fun read with the emotional impact any 11-year-old would feel after being alienated from her best friend and ridiculed by the rest of her class. Yes the mystery of this new girl is slowly uncovered leading to a story that highlights the value of family, friends and community.

Not the Worst Friend in the World is Anne Rellihan's debut novel, I will be on the lookout for more.

Thanks her Holiday House (via Netgalley) digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

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