Tag Archives: friendship

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Harlequin Teen, 2012.

Chelsea Knot is one of the popular girls, based almost solely on the basis of her friendship with queen bee, Kristen, who manipulates her, and everyone around her to get what she wants. Most of their time together is spent putting other people down, shopping, and gossiping about boys.

Chelsea is also known for her inability to keep a secret, unless she can blackmail someone for something better than the thrill of spilling the latest gossip. When she finds out that Tessa is sneaking around with her best friend, Megan’s boyfriend, and has pictures to prove it, Kristen convinces her not to share the photos if Tessa will get them two fake IDs.

So far, there is nothing likeable about Chelsea – and it’s all about to go downhill at a New Year’s party at Kristen’s. Drunk, and in desperate need of a bathroom, Chelsea stumbles into a bedroom where she discovers two boys making love. With the best secret of the year in her grasp, Chelsea blurts out the details to everyone within hearing range. Kristen, her boyfriend Warren, and others react in horror, disgust and anger, and Warren and his sidekick Joey follow the two boys out the door, saying they’re just going to teach them a lesson.

When she finds out from Kristen, the next morning, that Noah, one of the two gay teens, is in the hospital, Chelsea accedes to Kristen’s threat not to say anything to anyone.

Surprisingly, her conscience gets the better of her, and she confesses everything to her parents, and makes a statement to the police.

She then takes a vow of silence.

Returning to school, Chelsea finds that all of her friends have turned against her, and she is treated to verbal and physical abuse and harassment that the school administration manages to remain ignorant of. Given detention every day by her English teacher for not participating in class, Chelsea makes a new friend, who draws her into a new circle of people who are respectful of her silence.

These new relationships are not uncomplicated – they all know what she did, and one of the teens in this group is Noah’s boyfriend, who is furious and resents her presence in his life.

What Chelsea learns about herself through her silence, and through her new friendships is what makes this book worth reading, and not simply another story of a gay-bashing.



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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2010s, Gay, High School, Middle School

Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz

marcoRoaring Brook, 2013.

Gay – Middle School/High School

Stephen and Marco have been best friends for years. Known for their pranks, and detective works, one of which uncovered the fact that Stephen’s father was having an affair, they are finishing middle school with one last blast: Marco wants Stephen to help him get them into the high school senior prom, where Marco’s crush, Benji, will be performing with his band. Benji is going away for the summer, and Marco will be going to private school in the fall – so this is Marco’s one chance to declare his feelings to Benji.

Of course everything becomes more complicated than planned, not the least of which is the fact that Marco is clearly being targeted by bullies, something which Marco wants to ignore, while Stephen feels responsible for protecting him. Stephen feels growing resentment at being taken for granted, and the friends erupt in anger at each other, even as they try to follow through with what seems to be turning into a series of less and less funny disasters.

A very good book about friendship.  Recommended

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2010s, Middle School

The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

a Amulet Books, 2010

Gay – Elementary/Middle School

Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang have been best friends practically forever.  Like most girls, they want to be popular, and they worry about the pressures of junior high. With the idea of recreating themselves over the coming year they embark on a project to figure out how to become popular. They keep a secret notebook, with Julie recording the results of their various experiments in words and pictures, while the braver Lydia will be the subject (or victim) of these attempts to understand what it is that popularity is all about.

They try to bleach Lydia’s hair with laundry bleach; try to be interested in boys that the popular girls seem to think are interesting – or try to be interested in boys at all; they try to convince their parents’ they need cell phones (Julie has two dads, something that is only mentioned in passing, although they do appear in the story periodically); join sports that they aren’t really interested in; try out for the school play; enter the talent show, etc.

They make some new friends, learn that the popular girls have problems of their own, have a falling out, and come back together again.

The characterizations are spot-on, the graphic format appealing for the age group, and preteen girls will recognize themselves in Julie and Lydia, and laugh at, and with them.

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Filed under *** A good read, 2000s

The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison


HarperTeen, 2009

Gay – High School

Val is one of those students at high school who just blends in. She doesn’t have any particular friends, she skates by with a B+ average though she could do better; her physics teacher can’t even remember her name.

Then Francie joins her class and everything changes. Francie is flamboyant, defiant, she smokes, she’s always late to class, her clothing pushes the dress code: she’s nowhere in Val’s league. But for some reason, she latches onto Val, who is astonished and grateful, and willingly learns to smoke, cut class, and learn the skills of shoplifting from Francie.

Val is even a little bit in love with Francie, although “not in a lesbo way.” Homophobia rears its ugly head in this book, with Val, and her brother’s ex-girlfriend referring to him as a fag, and their mother unable to fully accept him. Fourteen year old Francie sets out to “cure” him by dressing particularly provocatively, and then can’t handle it when she gets attention from a group of construction workers.

Fissures start to edge into the friendship, and it all comes crumbling down one day at the mall as Val and Francie realize that their vows to be there for each other can’t address the real issues each of them is facing. An interesting psychological story of a friendship built on the shaky structure of two girls each needing something that the other ultimately can’t give.

This would be a much better book without the homophobia–or if it was something that the characters worked through.


Filed under ** Low recommend, 2000s, Gay, High School

The Broken Road by Sean Michael

brokenTorquere Press, 2006     ISBN: 1934166391

Ard and West grow up as best friends in a rural area. West is eager to get out as soon as possible, while Ard both loves farm life, and is stuck supporting his family after the death of his father and the breakdown of his mother. West comes out, and goes through a series of unsuitable boyfriends before finding true love–only to be destroyed when his lover is killed. Meanwhile, Ard watches helplessly over the years, too terrified to confess his love. When they finally do get together, their bond is more than either of them could have imagined.

The writing is weak and stilted at times, particularly in the first half of the book, but does improve as the book goes on. Some good sex scenes in the latter part of the book. Older teens will enjoy.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, Sexually Explicit

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

mymostDial Books, 2008. ISBN: 0803732279

Three teens keep journals through their junior year, covering their intersecting lives and interests, and the people important to them. There is Ale(jandra) new, privileged, trying to figure out how to fit in at public school; Anthony (aka TC) who has a serious crush on her; and Augie, TC’s “adopted” brother since TC’s mother died many years ago and no one else knew what to say to him (they have their own beds and sets of belongings at each other’s houses.

Interspersed are emails between Augie’s and TC’s dads about when Augie will realize he’s gay; emails and text messages between Augie and Andy, the boy he’s falling in love with if he’ll just realize it, and communications of various sorts between several other people.

Other characters include six-year-old Hucky, a deaf baseball genius who calls all the pitches to TC, and whom the teens befriend, learning ASL in order to be able to communicate with him; Aunt Babe and Aunt Ruth a lesbian couple who live in DC where Aunt Ruth is a member of Congress; Lori, TC’s guidance counselor who TC’s dad is interested in, Julie Andrews, Buck Weaver of the 1919 “Black Sox,” and more.

Fun, romantic, political, and hard to put down.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2000s