Best friends forever, Sara Smith and Nadine Ando navigate the end of a friendship when Nadine skips a grade and Sara is left behind.
Sara Smith is a biracial (half-white, half-Korean) seventh-grader in her final year of middle school. She and Nadine (who is also biracial, half-white, half-Japanese) have been inseparable for years. Cul-de-sac neighbors in a suburb of Vancouver since childhood, the girls have never considered separation before. They are two halves of the same person. Sara often reflects on the differences between the races of their parents and describes how this affects family life. In Sara’s family, her mother is Korean; in Nadine’s, her mother is white. The pain of possibly losing her trusted sidekick creates strong emotions as the school year begins, which leads to regrettable behavior. The girls’ younger siblings play significant roles, and there’s a subplot of a missing classmate. As the school year progresses, Sara’s internal dialogue gradually awakens emotional truth and personal growth as she learns from her mistakes. Occasionally, author Kim’s descriptiveness wanders past typical narration, serving more as a witness for readers rather than helping them emotionally experience the moment. In the end, Sara is wistful, recognizing the place her childhood best friend will always have in her life.
Readers get a ringside seat to the rite of passage of feeling true sadness for the first time in this story for readers readying to move up to YA. (Fiction. 10-14)