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That's What Friends Do

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  52 reviews
A heartfelt and powerful debut novel for fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and John David Anderson, That’s What Friends Do is a book for anyone learning how to have the hard conversations about feelings, boundaries, and what it means to be a true friend.

Samantha Goldstein and David Fisher have been friends ever since they met on their town’s Little League baseball team. But whe
Published January 28th 2020 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  169 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book is exactly what I needed when I was in 5th-6th grade. Cathleen Barnhart touches on much needed themes such as #metoo, consent, bullying, harmful gossiping, outgrowing friendships, female camaraderie, toxic masculinity—all laid out on the page with sensitivity and nuance. The story is told in alternating POVs, between Sammie and David—best friends torn apart by Luke, a new boy in school and an incident on the school bus. The alternating POVs really work in showing how one single ac ...more
Arianne Costner
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Literally could not put this one down! Teenage me would’ve loved this, and adult me did as well! There’s lots of exciting drama/misunderstandings, and the characters feel so real they jump right off the page.

The alternating point of view works great to show how both characters see the same situations in such different ways. No one is vilified, rather, we are able to see where things went wrong and what should have been done to fix it. Lots of complexity and depth. This is such a timely book, an
Jennifer Davids
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! As a middle school educator, I have been waiting for a book that will open a conversation about consent and boundaries. This book does this so well for younger teens, but also goes deeper in to the implications of our actions on our friends and loved ones. By offering alternating perspectives of two narrators, Sammie and David, it is also easy for the reader to see how misunderstandings between friends get started and perpetuated. A secondary story line focuses on the kids' st ...more
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a really good examination of how confusing friendship, attraction, teasing, and gender roles are - especially in middle school. There were many things to like here - including the alternating perspectives, the range of issues and how they subtly influence each other (i.e. no one thing stands on its own - it’s always part of the bigger picture), and how the parental attitudes carry on (or don’t) in the kids. There were a few moments that honestly really got to me. Very well done.
Ms. Yingling
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sammie and David have been good friends ever since the girls in her class started avoiding Sammie because she didn't share their growing interest in clothes and makeup. Sammie has even gone so far as to play baseball instead of softball, mainly because her father doesn't think that softball is a "real" sport. When Luke moves to town, David's mother makes him hang out with the new boy. David is intrigued by Luke's ease with girls, especially since David is starting
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, kids
This was SO good. Middle grade novels continue to rule and this is a must read. Sammie's and David's stories of being best friends and wanting to be more and knowing how to do that and developing their identities was just spot on. There are so many things that are so well done without being overwhelming or reaching. My only quibble is that I wish the author had labeled what was happening to Sammie as sexual harassment or even just harassment because that's absolutely what it was. The whole "boys ...more
Josephine Sorrell
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This account of Sammie is a powerful, yet cautious story about the issues of consent and sexual harassment written for for a middle-grade audience.

Sammie Goldstein and David Fischer have been best friends since forever, but as the two come of age, they begin to feel the stirrings of something more than childhood friendship.

David realizes he has a crush on Sammie, and is nervous about revealing his feelings to her. Enter new kid, Luke Sullivan, who is extremely cool and oh so handsome. He had mo
Richie Partington
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Richie’s Picks: THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS DO by Cathleen Barnhart, HarperCollins, January 2020, 352p., ISBN: 978-0-06-288893-8

“So, first because he’s funny. But also because he’s nice. Funny and nice.
Okay, scratch all of that. David Fischer is my best friend because five minutes after I walk into my dark, silent home on the first day of a very long winter vacation, he texts me and asks, Want to come over? You can tell me more about your goals for vacation and I can make fun of you.
I look at th
Afoma Umesi
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this wonderful wholesome story. That’s What Friends Do is a realistic portrayal of the tumultuous years between childhood and adolescence. It examines closely the need for young people to recognize and respect boundaries, especially where sexual harassment is concerned. Books like these are invaluable for helping young people understand toxic masculinity and consent. This is a book worth putting in as many young hands as possible.

Read my full review on my blog.
Olivia Wildenstein
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An important story about friendship between boys and girls at the delicate start of teenage-hood.

I really enjoyed how this story was told. David and Sammie were great characters with interesting POVs that both me and my kids could relate to.

Barnhart does a great job of adding dabs of everyday life to make a hard subject (#metoo) more palatable.
Stephanie Stinemetz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had the opportunity to read this when I was in middle school. Relevant and nuanced, it highlights a multitude of issues faced by kids in school, managing to present different and sometimes opposing perspectives to the reader, keeping them engaged and informed at the same time. A must-read not just for its target audience but also for anyone who interacts with them in a meaningful way. Teachers, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nannies and sitters, I'm looking at you. Head ...more
Autumn Guild
This children's story simplifies complex lessons into a storyline that sheds light on right versus wrong. Perspective plays a role as Sammie and David hold very different views on Luke's words, even though neither one are aware of how the other is feeling. If David knew how Sammie was feeling, it seems as though he would've stood up for her sooner. We can trace David's obliviousness back to his own insecurities of wanting to be able to flirt with Sammie himself. Each character has a background t ...more
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not sure how to feel for about 80% of the book, but towards the end is what did for me. I did enjoy this book, and it was good, but I had some things I didn't quite like.

To me, all the characters felt too mature and too childish at the same time, and I kept flip-flopping between disliking them and tolerating them. I liked how the book was written in switching POV, but I didn't like how it was first person. Sammie and David's voices were just so similar and it was hard to remember who wa
Celesta Rimington
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, me-too
I was lucky enough to read an Advance Edition of this book, and I wish it had been available when I was twelve. Cathleen Barnhart has written an important and tender story about friendship, boundaries, seeing things from another's perspective, and finding your voice even when it's difficult. For anyone who has had (a) #metoo experience(s), there is understanding and validation within these pages. Cathleen shows the truth of growing up and navigating challenges that arise within families and amon ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Before reading this book, which bravely broaches the topics of bullying and inappropriate treatment of girls, I thought I’d be left with a “total girl power” feeling. And there is an element of that in the book. Like it says here on Goodreads: “A heartfelt and powerful debut novel...That’s What Friends Do is a book for anyone learning how to have the hard conversations about feelings, boundaries, and what it means to be a true friend.”
It handles all of these topics well, showing how to communic
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
#MeToo for Middle Graders

Friends are there for each other. They meet-up in rail tunnels, and ride the Dinosaur Falls coaster three times together. They have a code.

This is exactly how things are between seventh-grade besties Samantha Goldstein—self-professed “girl who plays baseball”—and David Fisher, whose feelings about her have maybe changed.

Immediately after Luke Sullivan joins the pair of pals, though, the description of what friends do becomes different. Because friends don’t steal French
Katrina Feraco
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cathleen Barnhart has written an engaging, moving story about two friends, Sammie and David, who have played baseball together all their lives and whose friendship dynamic is shattered when a new kid, Luke, joins their school. David, an insecure, artistic boy with a crush on Sammie, feels like he needs to emulate charismatic, would-be playboy Luke, whose forward advances and aggressive harassment (which he and the other boys see as "flirting") make Sammie deeply uncomfortable. Grown ups and even ...more
Risa Nyman
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
That’s What Friends Do is the perfect coming of age story for today’s tweens. Cathleen Barnhart has tackled the heavy issue of me-too encounters in a poignant and realistic way as it impacts middle school kids. The confusion that comes from innocence and insecurity is heart-wrenching. Ms. Barnhart’s brilliant decision to write this story in both a girl’s and a boy’s point of view makes it even more compelling and important.

This story isn’t simple. Its twists and its unpredictability make it imp
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5/5 stars, rounded up.

Books about consent are sexual harassment are really important for older elementary school students, and I think this one does a good job of handling the issue. It's clear that how the boys are treating Sammie is wrong, and Barnhart allows the reader to figure that out before stating it explicitly. It's also realistic, if disappointing, when Sammie tries to tell people what is going on and they brush it off as "middle school boys."

My biggest gripe with this book is Luke.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janet Rundquist
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a powerful book for our middle grade audience with important themes about super authentic misunderstandings, #metoo, beginnings of/how to thwart toxic masculinity, power of female relationships, and changing friendships. Right when it gets especially difficult, Barnhart slips in the good that comes with change (whether or not that change was planned/wanted) to give a breather and a way to root for both main characters to find their way, and possibly find their way back to each other. I ...more
Kristin Lambert
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A compelling story about two seventh grade best friends navigating the complexities of middle school friendship, first crushes, learning to embrace who you are, and consent. We get to view the story from the alternating points of view of the main boy and main girl, so we see the misunderstandings and choices unfold in such an authentic way. It’s a page-turning story full of relatable characters, but it also contains valuable lessons, and I will be sharing this book with my two daughters when the ...more
Aug 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really important book for middle schoolers. It’s handles some big issues such as identify, self respect, consent, and friendship and honesty. There is some non consensual touching addressed- maybe a heads up for parents. However, I really liked the way this book could lead to a “me too” conversation and talk about feminism. I did wonder about the reason for identifying the race of a few non essential characters- seemed a bit forced. Overall- an excellent conversation starter for grade ...more
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read many middle grade books over the course of two years. And many are good. This one stands out as one of the more perfectly balanced and crafted ones. It has all elements of humor, realism, and relatability in just the right amounts. The characters are so alive without being sooooo alive, if that makes sense. I wasn't bogged down with so much voice. Just the right amount of voice, as I said. The themes are so needed and so relevant. I want all girls and boys ages 10-14 to read this, to t ...more
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The way the characters' experiences were described and the empathy I felt for them made me uncomfortable. A good uncomfortable - a "this feels like middle school" uncomfortable so for me as a parent it was a good reminder to step into the feelings and lives of seventh graders. Reading this will strengthen my empathy. I will hand this to my middle schooler and use it for our conversations about consent and friends.
Laurie Bass
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great read and a relevant story. I couldn't put it down. These kids, their attitudes and their problems are so real. When I finished reading it, I started reading it again, because the writing is so delicious and it was fun to look at the character development and the unfolding events through the lens of 20-20 hindsight.
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written story that felt quite real to me. The characters are likable and each struggles in their own way to navigate an increasingly complicated world. Because it is written from alternating points of view, it is easy to understand how the situation between Sammie and David develops. I was hooked from the first page!
LS Johnson
I didn’t like one of the main characters so much that it was hard for me to read half of the book. Because the POV switched back and forth between the 2 main characters, I was forced to be engaged with both. The topic is timely and hopefully helps young girls find their voice but this isn’t a book I’ll put on my recommendations list.
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  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
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