cover image Not the Worst Friend in the World

Not the Worst Friend in the World

Anne Rellihan. Holiday House, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-823454-79-2

Eleven-year-old Louise Bennett has been struggling with overwhelming guilt ever since she blurted out “terrible, horrible things” that ended her friendship with Francie Fitzpatrick. Lou is brainstorming ways to win Francie back when new girl Cece Clark-Duncan asks Lou for assistance in unraveling a mystery. Though Lou feels that she’s “not the kind of friend you should trust with your secrets,” she sees helping Cece as a chance to redeem herself. Cece, who believes that she has been kidnapped by her father, is convinced that Lou’s propensity to record observations in her notebook à la Harriet the Spy will help her contact her mother. As the pair investigate, Lou realizes that Cece’s predicament might not be what it seems, and she struggles with the possibility that the truth might hurt her new friend. Occasional flashback chapters depict Francie and Lou’s friendship and provide context to their falling out, which occurs before the book’s start. While the dual mysteries of the friendship breakup and Cece’s possible abduction don’t fully cohere, debut author Rellihan adeptly renders Lou’s pain from her broken friendship. Main characters cue as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Elizabeth Bennett, Transatlantic Literary. (Feb.)