Niko's Reviews > Worst Enemies/Best Friends

Worst Enemies/Best Friends by Annie Bryant
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Jan 23, 2012

it was ok


My daughter finished the various American Girls series and picked up a Beacon Street Girls book at the library. So I picked one up, too, to make sure the content and style meet parental requirements. They do. Being an adult male, this would have been a complete waste of my time if I hadn't read it for that purpose. If I were a pubescent girl, I would surely have rated it higher.

It's tough to move to a new city. It's tough to start junior high. Charlotte does both at once and despairs of ever making friends. In fact, the four main characters of the novel start out as "worst enemies." The plot and development are unsurprising. The characters are comically diverse - a veritable United Colors of Benetton billboard. There are some lessons on friendship and honesty, but these are pretty weak elements, to be frank. So is the description of setting and events. More than anything, the book is an impressionistic narrative of tween girl experience, fraught with misunderstandings, insecurities, crushes, secrets, and outfits. Everything works out neatly in the end.

One aspect I appreciated was reading the story told from the perspective of each of the four main characters. The narrator changes every chapter or two, with the name of the narrator appearing at the top of each chapter. Contrived as they seemed, I also enjoyed character attributes that were so carefully included that each reader could surely identify with at least one trait - the flashy romantic drama queen, the quiet klutzy studious one, the sporty socially-clueless animal lover, the slow-to-warm-up clever and loyal fashion-wizard. One has dyslexia and another almost certainly has ADHD. One has a sister with autism. What have we left out...? Artsy girl comes along in a later book in the series... Finally, I really liked the underlying but unstated message woven throughout: don't assume you understand another person's experience; give the benefit of the doubt and be kinder than you need to be.

I am given to understand that the Beacon Street Girls series is offered in opposition to the provocative an objectionable messages that young girls are otherwise constantly bombarded with. It is meant to touch on real and contemporary issues that girls face. Now, none of the characters has a cell phone (hallelujah), and there is no texting (yet?), but they do occasional internet chatting, infrequently use chat acronyms, and there is reference to modern pop culture here and there (such as American Idol). If that makes you squeamish, it's not for you. If you enjoy real literature, it's not for you, either. If your daughter wants to read it, I rate it as safe and probably worthwhile.
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Karissa On this app can u read books


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