I’ve noticed for a long time that girls and boys, at least in upper elementary/middle school, do friendship differently. Like all generalizations, this one is subject to exceptions, but generally girls rank their friends. They have a best friend, maybe several lesser friends, and some acquaintances that are OK for a casual conversation. Boys may have a best buddy, but they’ll pal around with almost anyone. Karate Kid has at least a dozen “best friends” depending on who’s available to play at any given time. It’s an odd phenomenon, but one of the things that makes this book a girl’s book rather than a boy-friendly title.
In Thank You, Lucky Stars, Ally Theresa Miller is looking forward to the first day of fifth grade —until the first day also becomes the day she loses her best friend, Becky. Somehow over the summer, Becky has become friends with Mona, their erstwhile worst enemy. For a guy a brush-off from a best buddy would be a signal to go find another friend, but for Ally Becky’s betrayal of their friendship is the beginning of a very bad school year.
The rest of the story tells how Ally recovers, does find a new friend, deals with said new friend’s imperfections and assets, and basically grows up over the course of the school year. It’s a decent enough story, but one thing bothered me. It took me a third of the book to figure out what time period it’s set in. It starts out with all sorts of seventies references: Star Wars, the Beatles, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Jolly Ranchers, smoking allowed in high school, the TV show Mission Impossible. Then there are also twenty-first century references: the slang term “chill” (isn’t that recent?), kitchen islands, malls, and middle schools. Finally on page 68, I learned that the sixties and the seventies were Ally’s parents’ day and that she learned about rock and roll and disco from them. So the setting is now, but it’s still very retro: go-go dancing and disco alongside CD’s, rappers, and Natalie Portman in People magazine.
Other than that fairly minor complaint, I would recommend this book for upper elementary school girls (not boys because of the puberty-for-girls talk) who enjoy realistic fiction about friendship issues and growing up.