Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Getting By With A Little Help From My Friends! Snapstreak: How My Friends Saved My (Social) Life by Suzanne Weyn

"We're pretty sure you have a concussion," the doctor tells us. "We're going to want you to rest your brain and your eyes," the doctor adds. "The first thing is no electronics for a while."

"I can't do that!" I say. "I'm in a Snapstreak competition. My entire school is depending on me. We have to win this free concert by BBD."

"Who's BBD?" asks the doctor.

Is she kidding?? "Boys Being Dudes!" I tell her. "I'll be letting down my whole school!"

"Vee!" Dad cuts me off. "You heard the doctor!"

Eighth grade is going great until Dad drops the bomb. Vee has two great friends, Lulu (screen name Luloooney) and Megan (screen name Megawatt) and they Snapchat constantly, especially about their crushes on the boy band BBD's drummer Joe and singer Derek. But then Dad tells Vee (screen name V-Ness) that they have to move after she graduates from Pleasant Hill Middle. She'll lose her best friends and have no friends at all at Shoreham High.

"I don't want to be the new kid. I'll be shunned!"

But then fate throws Vee a social lifeline. Visiting the potential new house, she meets a cool-looking girl, Gwynneth, and they exchange Snapchat names. If she can just convince Gynneth (screen name GQB2the2ndpwr) that's she's cool enough, she will have ready-made friends at Shoreham High. And then Lady Luck, in the form of local news anchor Heather May, appears at Pleasant Hill M.S. to recruit and interview participants in a SnapStreak citywide school competition with Shoreham Middle and Pleasant Hill partnered, and with the prize a free concert by Boys Being Dudes! She videos Lulu, Megan, and Vee for the evening news spot, and Vee realizes that if she can just get Gwynneth to Snapchat with her every day, she can win the concert for her school. What luck!

And then her luck runs out. It's lacrosse day in PE, and Vee asks Megan to phone-video her scoring a goal to impress Gwynneth, but instead, Lulu's pass hits her in the head and she's grounded with a concussion at home, and even worse, ordered off her phone for weeks. But her best friends don't fail her: they get their hands on her phone and keep the SnapStreak going, pretending to be Vee messaging Gwennyth.

The plan is working great, with the girls conferring daily about what "Vee" is going to Snapchat next. Vee's real-life crush Ethan has asked her out as soon as she recovers, the SnapStreak win is in sight, and BBD concert looks like a sure thing. What could go wrong?

But Megan gets soaking wet on the way to school and has to hand Vee's phone over to Madison, who promises to keep it dry and keep up the SnapStreak. Then, when Megan gets too sick to go to school and Lulu breaks her arm, Madison passes the phone to Bella, who hands it over on to a seventh grader named Maria who wants to be part of the action, who gives it to Emmett to make a video of his band class....

"I sent that Gwyn girl a video of Rae Gonzalez playing tuba. She loved it!" says Emmett.

"Great!" said Megan. "Can I have the phone?"

"I gave it to somebody." He looks at the ceiling, thinking. "I don't remember who it was, though."

Will "friends" she doesn't even know she has come through for Vee? In Suzanne Weyn's lighthearted look at social media mania, Snapstreak: How My Friends Saved My (Social) Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018), there's more than a little help from her friends, as all of Pleasant Hill Middle School comes through in an ending worthy of an after-school sit-com. High school (whichever one she attends) is looking pretty friendly for Vee.

Since ace authors Ann M. Martin and Paula Danziger took their joint epistolary series online with their 2000 hit, Snail Mail, No More, inventors of young teen fiction have made use of social media, and with a varied cast of characters and lots of cutesy facsimile Snapchat photos with oodles of emojis of the four main characters, this one is a quick and fun outing for even reluctant middle readers.

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