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Gr 5-8–Meredith's best friend has just died and Meredith is lost. Anjali was her anchor in the stormy sea of being a tween, having crushes, and dealing with bullies. She simply cannot fathom a life without Anjali or a day without speaking to her, so she begins writing letters to her. It is Meredith's way of keeping the connection to her best friend alive, because without Anjali, who is she? Through the course of her grief, Meredith begins to learn things about herself and her friend that put their relationship in a new light. Taking on a tough and little-explored subject, Haber skillfully handles the child's heartache, her loneliness, and the conflicting desires of wanting to continue on with her life but not wanting to forget Anjali. By placing the story between the keys of Meredith's dad's old typewriter, the author gives the narrative a believable realism (complete with a 12-year-old's typos). The format allows an intimate look at the inner workings of the girl's grief and the self-deprecating view she has on her friendship with Anjali. With such an interesting protagonist, it is slightly disappointing that it is Noah Spivak, Meredith's crush, who becomes the catalyst for change and not Meredith herself. The plot is slightly predictable, but the realistic, not-too-tidy ending brings truth to this novel, underscoring that life is complicated.Naphtali L. Faris, Saint Louis Public Library, MO
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Twelve-year-old Meredith’s world has tilted: her best friend, Anjali, has died suddenly of encephalitis, and the only way Meredith can cope with the loss is to write daily letters to her friend. Meredith’s insecurity about the prettier Anjali slowly rises to the surface as she works through feelings of grief, anger, and isolation. Noah (the object of both girls’ affections) joins Meredith in grieving, and when their friendship starts to move to another level, Meredith wonders if Anjali would be happy or jealous. Is Meredith betraying her friend, or has that already happened? Haber’s epistolary novel is aimed at middle-schoolers who can appreciate the drama and angst (shown with bold caps and exclamation points) of a preteen girl. Frequently typed on her dad’s old typewriter and full of spelling errors (which may be a distraction for some), this story is fairly successful in portraying loss and betrayal, in spite of sometimes wooden, two-dimensional characters and a nebulous view of the afterlife. Grades 5-8. --Melissa MooreSee all Editorial Reviews