I have to be honest. I’m a bit nervous about my son starting Middle school this year. We have already navigated the waters of friendship up until this point, but I realize that things are going to change and I want to be prepared. As a parent, I try to remind myself that I need to take a step back and let my boys develop their own social skills. I do want to guide them, but not have them use me as a crutch. When we talk about Middle school friendships I find that most of the focus falls on girls and their relationships with each other and boys. As a mom of two boys, I know that there is also a lot happening socially for boys and was curious to see if Friends and Frenemies: The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward by Jennifer Castle and Debbie Reber would be a good fit.
About Friends and Frenemies: The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward:
Middle school friendships can be a source of great joy one day, then pain and anxiety the next. Friends and Frenemies examines the complexities of friendship and helps readers start building communication tools that will last a lifetime. The book tackles big questions such as: “How can I make friends?” and “What if I feel like I need to end a friendship?” Friends and Frenemies includes not just advice, but also comments from real kids, advice from older teens who have been there and done that, quizzes, polls, and other interactive elements that encourage readers to engage with the book, adding their own thoughts and experiences.
My Thoughts: (Plus feedback from an 9 and 11 year-old boy.)
Friends and Frenemies is a wonderful guide for both boys and girls. After reading a bit I felt comfortable enough to hand it over to my boys to read. Our school year had ended with some turmoil in the friendship department so I was curious to see if they would find reading this book useful. They did, but I’ll get to that in a moment. The chapters are can be read in any order you chose. If you find your child is having problems making friends, fighting with a friend, has questions about gossip, they can easily go to that chapter and get the information. The book is well written, easy to read and contains not only information from the authors, but from other tweens and teens that have gone through these experiences themselves. I’m a big fan of the “journal kickstarts” in this book. There are a few highlighted boxes in the book that ask the reader to get deep with themselves and write it down. Personally, I love this idea and would encourage readers to also use the quizzes throughout the book as “journal kickstarts”. Another feature that I’d like to point out is the chapter covering “Opposite Sex Friendships”. This touches on crushes and the rules of opposite sex friendships in a safe a tween friendly manner. Both of my boys found this book interesting and helpful in dealing with their relationships with friends. They both also commented that keeping this book around would be helpful as a source of guidance in their future friendships.
Final thought: This book is for ages 8 – 13. I feel the parent can use it as tool for future success in the social lives of their children. Children as well can keep this book in their room as a guide, as inspiration, and future reference. I highly recommend this book for both boys and girls. On that note, my only criticism is the cover. The pastel colors, friendship bracelets and pictures of girls on both the front and back of the book cover reads “this is for girls”. There is a smaller drawing of 2 boys together on the front cover as well, almost as an after thought. I probably wouldn’t be drawn to pick up this book for my boys because of the cover. I’m glad I did because it is relevant to both sexes. Pick it up! It’s a great back to school gift!
I have a copy of Friends and Frenemies: The Good, the Bad, and the Awkwardto giveaway to one of my lucky readers! Please wait for the form to load and good luck! Giveaway ends September 3, 2015. Giveaway is US only, 18 and up.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate a review. Al thoughts belong to me and my children.