Sunday, April 18, 2021

Loyal to the List: 13 and 3/4: Friendship List #4 by Lisa Greenwald

Everyone needs to have at least one person in his or her life who makes them feel like everything is right in the world even if it's not. Just one person.

Best friends Ari and Kaylan are anxious about their upcoming school year and all the changes that will bring.

But for their summer, they've chosen separate summer camps again, Ari at Camp Silver, where her little sister Gemma is also going, and Kaylan back at Comedy Arts camp. They have friends from the previous year, and even special boys, Golfy and Otis, who will be there. How will that turn out? they worry. Will everyone have changed over the school year?

Kaylan has cold feet about it all.

"I don't want to be thirteen and three-quarters. It's too hard.

I want to be little, still. Little forever."

As since the summer before sixth grade, the two turn to making The List for the summer to guide them. Of course, #1 is "Keeping Their Friendship Strong" "Write Each Other Once a Week," and "Make A Time Capsule of Our Lives at Exactly 13 3/4 and Bury It." But the other items they come up with are special to their camps. Some are serious, like "Make a Difference," "Keep a Gratitude Journal" and "Help a Young Camper Start Their Own List," and some are silly camp things like "Master the Art of Tie Dye," "Help Two Counselors Fall in Love," "Sneak Out at Night," and especially, "Do Something Daring."

Some of the things on the list work out. After several weeks of what seems like constant weeping, Ari's little sister suddenly begins to love being away at Camp Silver. Kaylan and her Improv partner crack up even their fellow Comedy campers, but Kay suffers through Family Day with both her mother and her dad with "his person" both attending. Golfy and Otis give them their first real kisses. But when Ari and Golfy sneak out after curfew on their "dare to be daring" goal to drive a camp golf cart (Golfy's idea), they are caught and face the possibility of being unable to return to camp again--ever.

Ari and Kaylan have a lot to share with each other when they return home. School looms just ahead, and they feel both excitement and sadness as they say goodbye to their thirteenth year and bury their Time Capsule together.

The best friends realize that things are changing fast, and that they, too, are changing, but they are still grateful to have each other.

"The whole world is like a narrow bridge. But the most important thing is not to be afraid."

In her fourth book in her Friendship List series, Lisa Greenwald's Friendship List 4: 13 and 3/4 (Katherine Tegin Books, 2020) follows close on the heels of her third, Friendship List 3: 13 and Counting, and join her Friendship List 1: 11 Before 12 and Friendship List 2: 12 Before 13, (see my reviews here. Greenwald has a good ear for the voice of middle-class middle school girls in a time of life in which the change from childhood to young adult comes all too fast for them, a time when the ground beneath their feet seems to constantly shifting. Although Ari and Kaylan have comparatively comfortable lives, they face difficult situations with their parents' marriages, shifting peer relationships, sibling problems, the health of aged relatives, and with their own friendship which they must navigate, knowing when to be (or not to be) "loyal to the list," as they make their way through the changes of early adolescence.

Says author Lauren Myracle, "Brilliant, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and heartbreaking (in a good way)."

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