CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 1. . . .September 4, 2015
How to Outfox Your Friends When You Donít Have a Clue.
Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2015.
299 pp., trade pbk., $10.50.
Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.
Review by Teresa Iaizzo.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Then I realized that maybe I didnít need to be a grown-up to save something. There was already a wound in my own life that needed saving, only it wasnít a paw or a tail, or even an animal at all.
It was a friendship.
My seat belt tightened as Mom drove faster down the winding highway. Liv and I were like that fox, werenít we? An unhappy accident-her moving far away so many months ago-had changed things in an instant, like a car hitting an animal. And now we were struggling because we didnít know how to be friends anymore, just like that fox was struggling to live.
Mom and her crew had come along to fix him up. But who would fix us up?
It had to be me.
Maybe the wildlife rehab place could teach me how.
Being a 13-year-old girl can often be difficult, especially when your best friend moves away, but what happens when she comes for a surprise visit and you just happen to be best friends with your old enemy? This is the central idea behind Jess Keatingís How to Outfox Your Friends When You Donít Have a Clue, the third installment in her ďMy Life is a ZooĒ series.
The story revolves around Ana Wright, a soon to be 13-year-old girl who loves animals (her family once lived in a zoo!). After her best friend Liv moves away, Ana finally begins to make new friends, even befriending her once sworn enemy Ashley. Things are looking good until Liv decides to make a surprise visit. Ana is shocked to see the new Liv with purple hair and new piercings, but she vows to preserve their friendship. The only problem is that Liv doesnít know about Ashley.
In order to maintain her friendship with Liv, Ana lies to her about Ashley and tries to keep everything the way it was when they were younger. The problem is that they have both grown up and have changed. As a result, their friendship feels forced at best. Things come to a head at Anaís thirteenth birthday party when Liv witnesses Ashley giving Ana a gift and then storms off. Eventually, with the help of her mother and new friends Ashley and Bella, Ana is able to patch things up with Liv as they both realize that part of growing up includes change, and that is okay.
Ultimately, I feel that How to Outfox Your Friends When You Donít Have a Clue is a great read for children who are about to enter their teen years. It perfectly captures the many fears and challenges children experience at this point in their lives. As a result, the plot is very realistic with fast-paced, accessible language that will appeal to young readers. More importantly, Ana Wright and her friends are very relatable characters. Readers can easily identify with their many fears and insecurities, especially about growing up. Keating did a great job at capturing a very vulnerable time in many young peoplesí lives with this great coming-of-age story.
Teresa Iaizzo is a Senior Library Assistant with the Toronto Public Library.
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