I don’t think an image of this paperback book’s cover exists anywhere on the internets. And I don’t own a working scanner. So it’s a pity, I had a great Mallory Pike comment to make about the cover. Seriously! Kelly looks just like Mal on this cover! But you’ll just have to take my word for it. And here is the much lamer and less Malloryish hardback cover, courtesy of Goodreads.
Meh pretty much describes this whole book. This is one of those books that I read a cool dozen times, but never really loved. And I can see why. It’s just…..meh. The author, Patricia Hermes, is better known for some other books, including the novelizations of the films My Girl and My Girl 2. Like I said….meh.
Y.A. lit is ripe with books about nerdy bookish girls whose best friends are leaving them for the popular crowd. Friends are Like That turns this concept on its head and tells that same old story from the POV of the girl doing the leaving for the popular crowd. And that girl is Tracy, a ninth grader in junior high. She’s been best friends with Kelly ever since they were little kids. Kelly is….well, she’s weird. She wears weird clothes, she’s bookish, she wears weird glasses and doesn’t care at all that she doesn’t fit in. Her nickname among the bitchy (i.e. popular) crowd is ‘costume girl.’
Lately, the popular crowd, headed up by Angie, have been showing an interest in having Tracy join their ranks. Tracy is hesitant to give up her friendship with Kelly, and for a while insists that Kelly tag along with her when she hangs out with the popular crowd. Dumb move because obviously Kelly doesn’t fit in. And one day, Angie invites Tracy to a party (a boy/girl party!!!!) right in front of Kelly.
Tracy totally wants to go, but Angie tells her she has to invite a boy. Tracy wants to invite Steve, her popular crowd crush, but Angie has already asked him. Angie wants Tracy to invite douchewad Josh, who is the ringleader of the kids who tease Kelly. Tracy won’t invite him. What’s a gal to do?
Kelly skips school one day, leaving Tracy free to sit with the popular crowd (Oh! they’re like socs!) on the school bus. Angie apologizes for inviting her in front of Kelly, and says to Tracy, “It must be hard outgrowing a friend you’ve had since you were little.” The thought of that surprises Tracy, who hadn’t really considered that’s what was happening. In other news, Steve walks Tracy home from school one day! Squee!
Tracy and Kelly continue to hang out, even going as far to sneak on a golf course and steal a golf cart one day, but they never talk about how they’re growing apart. One day, Kelly brings it up though and tells Tracy they shouldn’t hang out at school anymore. They should only be friends outside of school. At first, Tracy is like ‘No way,’ but Kelly assures her it’s OK and she wants more time to work on her writing. Finally, Tracy agrees and from then on sits with the popular crowd at lunch and on the school bus.
One day shortly after this new arrangement, some of the popular kids really start teasing Kelly badly. Tracy half-heartedly tries to stop unsuccessfully. Kelly won’t accept Tracy’s help when it’s all over, though she admits that she’s been extremely lonely without Tracy. Kelly doesn’t understand why the fact that she doesn’t care about clothes and boys, etc means that people should tease her.
Tracy misses Kelly. She really does. And so she sits with her at lunch. When the popular girls try to call her out on it, Tracy is all, “whatever, Kelly’s my friend too and I want to sit with her.” Which was the wrong thing to say, because then the teasing starts against both of them on the school bus. Tracy still feels torn, and has no idea why she cares so much what the bitchy girls think. She just does.
Anyway, Tracy gets disinvited to Angie’s party. Tracy halfway cares. Tracy is happy when she realizes that during all the teasing and whatnot, Steve wasn’t there. Even though he’s popular, he’s not a waste of a human like the other popular kids. And he proves that by being nice to Tracy and holding her hand on the bus. Awwww…
- Tracy can be bitchy in her own right. She calls Josh a fairy. Because it’s never to early to make homophobic jokes, kids.
- Tracy says that Kelly is pretty without her glasses. As someone who has worn glasses for the last twenty-two years, may I kindly say “Fuck you Tracy.” It’s not shocking for people to look good in glasses. Also, what the fuck is Kelly, Clark Kent? She takes of the specs and she’s unrecognizable?
- Angie really isn’t the bitchiest girl in the popular crowd. That title belongs to Angie’s lackey, Margaret Anne. Margaret Anne is usually the one to start teasing Kelly. So Tracy gets back at her at the end by making fat jokes.
- Tracy believes that the golf course near their house is ‘beautiful.’ Really? You show me a beautiful golf course and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t understand what a really beautiful outdoor space is.
- There’s this one scene where Tracy and Kelly are talking about ‘pretty’ words and ‘ugly’ words. I love this conversation – and it’s probably the best part of the entire book. I think about how words sound all the time. Nice words include, amphitheater, iguana, calm, Chevrolet. Ugly words are freckle, stricken, turd, ugly, chocolate. Then Kelly brings up words that sound nice but have a bad meaning, like suicide and Tracy has a hard time separating the meaning from the actual sound of the word. It’s a pretty great conversation.
- Tracy curses sometimes. She says Damn! a lot when she’s angry. And at the end both she and Kelly call Angie a bitch. The swearing in this book seems awkward, like the author put it in to be edgy, even though this is one of those completely bland inoffensive YA books. It also reminded me of a recent blog written by Almost-Surgeon General, CNN Doctor and all around Stone Cold Fox, Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the power of swearing.
- Wait….what? Did I just call Dr. Gupta a stone cold fox? Why yes I did. You can’t deny it, the man is quite the looker. And a doctor, people! A doctor!!!!
- I said it before and I’ll say it again about this book. Meh.