Real Friends… sometimes you find the perfect book at the perfect time. That’s what this book was for my daughter who was struggling with making meaningful friendships at a new school. I read this book after my daughter finished it and insisted that I read it too. In this book by Shannon Hale, you follow a young Shannon as she navigates friendships in elementary school. In the author’s note at the end of the book, I learned that this is based on the author’s experiences and her feelings at the time of what she was going through. Shannon has a hard time making friends. She has one best friend and wishes she could keep her BFF to herself. Shannon has a lot of anxiety around being accepted by the other children and often isn’t treated well. It doesn’t help that she is bullied by her sister in addition to a girl in her “group of friends”. The anxiety sometimes leads to stomach aches and Shannon displays behaviors associated with OCD. Shannon is so wrapped up in her own feelings that she isn’t always a good friend either. This is a very real glimpse of what these events felt like when they were experienced by a young Shannon. The characters are authentic and everyone can find something they relate to. And LeUyen Pham does an amazing job of bringing the story to life with her expressive artwork. The author’s note at the end of the book is a must read and really explains the perspective of the story. I really think this was a very genuine story about finding real friends that like and accept you for who you are. It has a hopeful ending and shows that real friends are out there, even if it takes us a while to find them. And when you do find them, they will like you for who you are and you won’t be afraid to be yourself. Thank you Shannon Hale for sharing your beautiful true story with us so that readers know they aren’t alone and their story isn’t over.