Bree's mom is busy with work. Her brother Reid is mad at her about his broken arm. Cassie is two years older, smokes (or says she does), and has a tattoo. The only person Bree can depend on is her old friend and playmate, Joey, who's trustworthy--but completely imaginary.
Cassie Was Here begins with Cassie talking Bree into a haircut and ends with the two of them sneaking out at night to fix up an old dollhouse. Along the way both will learn about the unpredictable ways real friendships are made, and Bree will learn to need Joey a little less. Confident, funny, true-to-life, it's a story about being 11 and wanting to be 13; about friendship, family, and generosity; and about the awkward, tender transition from pre-teen to teen.
Hickey's debut book captures the shaky essence of what it's like for an 11-year-old to be shy and desperately lonely in a new town. Although Bree Mulaney has her 13-year-old brother, Reid, to keep her company, she still feels like a bump on a log most of the time, even when her imaginary friend, Joey comes out to play. When Cassie, a cool and pretty older girl shows up down the street, Bree sees an opportunity to convince her parents that she has a new friend (and can put their fears of her imaginary friendship to rest) especially when Cassie offers to cut and highlight Bree's hair like hers. Trouble arises, however, when Cassie starts flirting with Reid instead of playing games with Bree, and Reid maliciously spills the beans about Joey after Bree catches Cassie and him smooching. Is Cassie really the user she appears to be? Will Bree ever find a real friend as loyal and trustworthy as Joey? Hickey's choice to use an imaginary friend to illustrate Bree's vulnerability is spot-on ideal for revealing how scary it is to be alone in an unfamiliar place and how hard it can seem to make friends. Although Bree's mother comes across as a worrywart at times, her concern over Bree's overly active imagination feels genuine. The book is especially well suited to kids who have moved (or are planning to), but Bree's spunk and quirky behavior will endear her to even the most rooted of readers. Ages 9-12.