Picking up where Friendship Over (2014) ends, this illustrated diary-style slice-of-life novel tells the continuing story of 10-year-old Celie Valentine Altman, centering on the all-important middle school topics of friendship and family.
The theme of secrets—finding them, keeping them, and the subtle ethics of these decisions—is a strong choice for Celie’s character, as she can’t stand not knowing what’s going on. She’s also willing to break moral boundaries to find out, spying and reading private correspondence. However, when her addled grandmother accidentally sets her sweater on fire, it’s Celie who tries to hide this important secret from her parents, as she fears her beloved grandmother will be taken away. On the friendship front, Celie’s longtime friend, Lula, has a new friend, Violet, and Celie doesn’t understand why Lula is sharing secrets with Violet rather than her. And at home, Celie struggles with her older sister, Jo, interfering with her privacy and insisting that Jo not keep her ice cream date secret from their parents. Although the issues Celie faces—loss of her best friend, conflicts with her sister, concerns about her cognitively compromised grandmother—are major, the story is in no way heavy, as Celie’s skewed perspective and the diary’s clever illustrations add humor and keep the tone light.
A heartfelt but amusing story about the many challenges of growing up. (Fiction. 8-11)