Author: Julie Crabtree
Ariel is the head chef in her family kitchen. Cucumber salads, fettuccine carbonara, fish tacos, and peanut butter pie are just a few of the dishes she crafts when she’s feeling frustrated by the world. And it’s turning into a frustrating year. Ariel, Nicki, and Mattie have been inseparable friends since they were little kids, but now Mattie’s mom has decided to move away. It’s the girls’ last year in middle school, and they can’t fathom being separated. The friends concoct a plan that will keep Mattie in the Bay area — she’ll move in with Ariel and her family. But before you can say "bff," the party is over. Everything Mattie does gets on Ariel’s nerves, and it’s not long before the girls are avoiding each other. This was supposed to be their best year ever, but some painful lessons are threatening to tear their friendship apart. Can the girls scramble to make things right before the bond crumbles?My Review
How many times when you were in middle school did you wish you lived with your best friend? Or how many of us had best friends move away? I think many many of us could raise our hand to both those questions. Because of that, this is a book that tons of girls will be able to relate to.
The Characters: Ariel is a pretty typical 8th grader. She's easily embarrassed, loves her family yet at points wants nothing to do with them and her friends are the most important thing to her. I liked Ariel, and I think most girls will be able to relate to her a lot. When she finds out her best friend is moving she reacts the way I've watched countless girls I teach react - including the plan to have M (her best friend) move in with her. I liked, too, her love of cooking and how she used it to de-stress. I think most girls have something they do when they are feeling stressed out, so it was neat to see how she used that. The only bad part about her cooking - it made me hungry!!!
As an adult I did find Ariel a bit self-centered at times. She talked a lot about how she wanted everything in her life to be and what her friends and family were to do to fit into her plan. That is pretty typical of this age group, but as an adult reader I did want to remind her a few times it wasn't all about her! I did like the growth she had at the end of the book though. She definitely stepped out of herself and focused solely on the needs of M and her family. It endured her more to me.
As for her two friends M (there is an explanation as to why just M!) and Nicki - they too were pretty typical 8th graders. Full of drama, confusion, emotions and their lives. In the end I think I liked M more than Ariel. She grew up a whole lot faster. I may have to read Discovering Pig Magic to hear more about her story.
The Plot: The plot centers around what happens when two best friends end up living together. As an adult, I could've told them it wouldn't go as expected, but 8th graders need to learn everything for themselves! I liked how the tension builds between the friends. It was very realistic, and at points made me feel their discomfort. The side story with Nicki was interesting, and it added to tension nicely too. Because of Nicki's mysterious behavior, Ariel found she didn't have someone to turn to when things weren't going well. It made her even more confused and uncertain. She had to struggle more, so it made the outcome that more satisfying. In the end, M and Ariel's stories wrapped up well. I was definitely satisfied with how it all turned out. I am, however, curious about what will happen with Nicki, and I wonder if there will be a book about her.......
Final Thought: Definitely a story that middle grade girls will able to relate to - and hopefully learn from!
Best stick-with-you image: All the food!
Best for readers who: Are girls - especially girls that have had a friend move away
Best for ages: 11+
Do miss the interview I did with Julie Crabtree. You can go HERE to read it!