Real Friends

By Shannon Hale

From the back cover

When best friends are not forever…

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of the circle of friends call The Group. Everyone in it wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top…even if it means bullying the others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group — or out?

My thoughts…

As a strong advocate for educational and beneficial children’s books, I would not recommend this book to be read by Muslim children. Although the positive message in the book is important but it has become redundant. There are countless other children’s books that encourage young girls to be themselves and to choose their friends wisely and hold much stronger positive messages than this one.

In a gist…

Extramarital Love/Relationship

Pages 19 & 22 A boy forcefully kisses a girl. The girl later admits that she wanted him to kiss her but her friend tells her that he should have asked her first. These girls are in second grade.

Page 157: Shannon learns about her friend’s mother’s boyfriend and her other friend tells her about her brother’s “flirty” friends.

Page 205: Shannon’s older sister asks her to promise that she would be the first to know about Shannon’s first kiss.

 

Violence

Page 61: Shannon’s older sister is illustrated smacking her across the face and again on page 83 she hits her with a shoe on her head.

Profanity

None.

Smoking/Intoxicants

None.

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

Pages 26 &127 Shannon prays to the “Heavenly Father”.

Page 59: a quick mention of stories of Joseph from the Bible.

Page 88: A group of girls anonymously call boys in their class to ask how they rated them out of 10 based on looks and personality. I am disgusted by how degrading this is. Allowing girls to accept a rating based on their appearance by boys. Shannon, the protagonist, gets the lowest ratings and ends up changing her looks completely!

Page 94: Mention of Christmas.

Pages 120, 121, &123: illustrations of Jesus and referral to him as god.

 

Positive messages

Page 60: Shannon says that she wanted to be perfect like the prophets and forgives her older sister for being mean.

Shannon leaves her friends and decides to be by herself when she realizes how miserable her circle of friends make her. She ends up finding real friends that accept her for who she truly is.

Final Verdict

The book is vain. It lacks quality and the characters lack personality. The positive message of finding one’s self may get lost to young minds since Shannon does change her appearance at one point after hearing boys “rating” her. We would definitely NOT recommend this book to young Muslims.

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