In the old days, when Kate had no interest in romance, she never cared what other people thought. Now, it appeared, love was turning her into a rotten human being.
Eleven-year-old Kate Faber wishes she could talk to her best friend, Marylin, about this. But Marylin is no longer her best friend. Or is she? Kate and Marylin were always the kind of best friends who lived on the same block for their entire lives, and who agreed on what kinds of boys were worth kissing and who should be invited to their sleepover. The kind of best friends who didn’t need words to talk, but who always just knew.
But lately Marylin has started to think that Kate can be a bit babyish. And Kate thinks Marylin is acting like a big snob. Somehow nothing is the same, but secretly Kate and Marylin both wish it could be...
In a perceptive slice-of-life novel, Dowell (Dovey Coe) knowingly portrays the changing dynamics of middle-school relationships. Neighbors Kate and Marylin, who have been best friends since nursery school, find themselves drifting apart at the beginning of sixth grade. Marylin suddenly focuses on her appearance ("As much as Marylin hated to, she had to admit it: She was the sort of person who cared about toes"). Kate pays more attention to other issues, like the health of her father, who suffers a heart attack early on ("Her dad would probably never got to eat another sausage pizza in his life. For some reason, that seemed like the saddest thing Kate had ever heard"). Alternating Kate's and Marylin's points of view, the novel progresses episodically, with large gaps of time separating "milestone" incidents in the girls' movement along different paths. Marylin makes the cheerleading squad and becomes popular, but happiness always seems just beyond her grasp. Meanwhile, Kate feels abandoned by Marylin and strives to develop new friendships with other classmates at school. Much of the plot matter is familiar both girls fall in and out of love, sample different social circles and end up realizing that they miss each other as Dowell offers insight and evenhandedness, not novelty. Girls will recognize their own dilemmas here and feel encouraged by the author's honest and sympathetic approach. Ages 8-12.