The Book of Dares for Lost Friends

Jane Kelley. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-05087-8
Set on the west side of Manhattan, with frequent ventures into Central Park, this entertaining and compassionate coming-of-age story explores middle-school cruelty, the heartache of abandonment, and the supple bonds of friendship. At the start of sixth grade, Lanora, the only child of bitterly divorced parents, ignores her best friend Val and seeks admittance to a clique of snooty blondes, “the A Team,” who admit her only to drop her. Val, a confident student and soccer player, accepts Lanora’s distancing until her six-year-old brother insists the “evil Werd has cast a spell upon Lanora” and she needs rescuing. Kelley (The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya) smoothly weaves together plot threads that involve ordinary family interactions; the subtle interventions of a cat named Mau; an odd, brilliant teenager who lives in an antiquities shop; ancient Egyptian ceremonies; and a mentally ill homeless man. Val’s observation that the “world was so crowded with sights and sounds and smells; there didn’t seem to be space for demons and spells” captures the story’s blend of reality, whimsy, and magic. Ages 8–12. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 07/14/2015
Genre: Children's
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