Feiwel & Friends
July 14, 2015
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Val and Lanora have been friends forever. Val expects their relationship to stay the same. But after they start middle school, Lanora decides to reinvent herself. Her parents have split up, and she wants to rise above that. Unfortunately Lanoraʼs choices lead her into trouble. Val hates watching her friend lose her way. She wants to rescue Lanora, but how? Val doesnʼt know what to do until a stray cat leads her to a strange boy who lives in an even stranger bookshop. Together they embark on a quest. Will they be able to save a lost friend? Will they get lost themselves? Or will they find a way to help each other become who they want to be . . .
Jane Kelley has created a nuanced, universal story about friendship and that delicate time of adolescence when there is much to lose and much more to find.
Middle school can be a strange time for anyone. As Val says, "After all, this was middle school. Plenty of outrageous things (like stuffing rolls of paper in the toilets) were normal. And plenty of normal things (like greeting someone you knew) were outrageous." (pg 66)
Val and Lanora have been best friends practically forever, but now they're starting middle school. Val doesn't see it as the monumental thing Lanora seems to and soon something has happened. Val isn't seeing Lanora around, they aren't doing things together or even talking. Val does't know that Lanora wants to change herself, get more friends. She doesn't want to lose Val's friendship, just put it on hold for a whole.
Only she doesn't tell Val any of this. Val is confused as to why her best friend suddenly doesn't seem to be her best friend, but she isn't giving up on Lanora, either. Especially when the 'new' Lanora gets into trouble.
With the help of the odd Tasman whom she meets in the odd antiquities store, Val plans to save Lanora.
The Book of Dares for Lost Friends does a really nice job portraying how middle school can be. From Lanora's urge to reinvent herself, to expand her social circle - though not knowing how to include Val in it all - to Val's desire just to go with the flow and not lose Lanora. The characters confusion, their desire to be accepted, was realistic.
The characters, though, weren't as well developed as I wished. We know that Lanora plans to be wealthy and successful someday but not really why that's such a firm goal. We know her parents divorce hurt her and see bits of how things are now (especially via her mother) but not that much.
I loved Drew and Tasman's reasoning and their dialogue. Tasman's character just presented too many questions, however, that were left unanswered at the end of the book. All of the questions (and, really, that they don't get answered) was distracting.
I wish we had seen just a bit more of Lanora and Val's friendship prior to school starting. It is harder to really relate to Val's desire to 'save' her friend when we've been told that they were best friends, but not shown it. You end up wondering if they really are just changing and drifting apart, albeit suddenly.
It really was Drew, Tasman and the girls Val starts to spend time with at school - along with what seemed like a realistic portrayal of middle school - that saved The Book of Dares for Lost Friends for me. There were too, too many unanswered questions at the end for it to be a great read.
digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley