cover image We Used to Be Friends

We Used to Be Friends

Amy Spalding. Amulet, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3866-1.

What’s worse than a romantic breakup? A best-friend breakup, at least according to James, a girl with a boy’s name, whose friendship with Kat seems to erode over their senior year of high school. Kat is dating someone new, and James, increasingly irritated at what she sees as Kat’s constant need for attention, has stopped telling Kat about what’s happening in her life, even major events like her parents’ split. The two girls narrate their stories in alternating chapters, and Spalding (The Summer of Jordi Perez) has James’s version move backward in time while Kat’s goes forward. The author effectively conveys the ways that a desire for perfection can keep people at arm’s length, how not telling people things makes it harder to tell them later, and how silence can come to feel like a lie. The novel is about more than just the friendship: Kat’s seeing a girl for the first time; James is volunteering, making new friends, and debating whether to get back together with her boyfriend. But Spalding shows with sensitivity how the pain of losing a close friend can seep into everything. Ages 14–up. [em](Jan.) [/em]