Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Work In Progress: 13 and Counting by Lisa Greenwald

"So, what's going on," I ask Ari over the phone.

"Bubbie's in the hospital. They think she had a mild stroke. But listen, I think this is happening right now for a reason."

"Why?" I ask her.

"The list, our new list, more stuff just keeps coming to me."

Kaylan remains quiet and waits. I know a lot is going on inside her head right now that I know is taking some time to get out, she thinks.

"And two more items came to me totally organically," Ari says. "One is, spend more time with Bubbie... because time is precious. We never know about the future." Ari goes on... "Also, figure out how we feel about God."

It's a tall order. Approaching their thirteenth birthdays, BFFs Ari and Kaylan feel as if everything is changing beneath their feet. School is hard, and it all doesn't come easily to them anymore. Family problems make even their attempts at lighthearted fun harder to enjoy: Kaylan's father comes to visit and announces he's marrying someone she doesn't even know; Ari feels her beloved grandmother sliding toward death.

And old friendships are shifting. Ari's camp buddies are off in various directions, Kaylan's lunch-table-girls are now unpredictable, and even Ari and Kaylan find their friendship tested. Kaylan's once-upon-a-time "boyfriend" is now Ari's. How did that happen? Kaylan is thrilled to be invited to spring break at a posh resort as the guest of Cami's well-to-do family, where she soon finds she'd rather be home, hanging out with Ari. Ari finds herself moody and dissatisfied with everything.

"I don't know what it's going to be. I am just in a weird place right now."

And both of them are planning to spend most of the next summer away, Ari at her Jewish camp and Kaylan at her stand-up comedy camp.

Working their way through it all, including "The List," thirteen aspirations before the school year is over, the two best friends have to find a way to remain close through the ups and downs, ins and outs, of life, in Lisa Greenwald's third book in series, Friendship List 3: 13 and Counting (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2019). Author Greenwald keeps it real in this book, and although there are plenty of laughs, readers will find these characters coping with a period of life when they begin to realize that their own world is part of a larger world. Ari and Kaylan find a way to be themselves and best friends as well, and readers of the first two books in the series, Friendship List 1: 11 Before 12 and Friendship List 2: 12 Before 13 will want to follow these relatable characters as they navigate being both themselves and best friends.

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