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The Secret Language of Girls Hardcover – May 1, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6-Kate and Marylin have been best friends forever. The 11-year-olds begin to drift apart, however, when manipulative Flannery moves into the neighborhood. Partly motivated by unhappiness and insecurity, the older girl influences the passive Marylin to turn against Kate. Marylin joins the cheerleader crowd while Kate eventually gravitates toward classmates who don't follow the herd. Told from various points of view, including those of characters closely involved with the events as well as others on the periphery, the story follows these girls as they struggle with hurt feelings, peer pressure, acceptance, and self-image. Although Marylin believes Kate to be totally immature, it is ironically Kate who ends up romantically involved with a slightly geeky boy who appreciates her kindness and growing sense of self-worth. Flannery grows increasingly disconnected, but Kate learns to stand up to peer pressure. Her hard-won self-possession serves her well when she is the target of a mean prank in which Marylin participates; the tide turns, and kids will admire Kate's handling of the situation. Perhaps a bit unbelievably, the book ends with the repentant Marylin phoning her ex-best friend. Excellent characterization, an accurate portrayal of the painful and often cruel machinations of preteens, and evocative dialogue will make this tale resonate with most readers, who will see themselves and some of their peers in its pages.
B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap

Kate and Marylin have always been the kind of best friends who don't need words to talk to one another; they always just knew what the other was thinking. But lately it's starting to feel as though they don't know each other at all anymore. Marylin decides Kate (who still chases fireflies!) still acts like a baby, while Kate doesn't understand Marylin's new obsession with painting her toenails or wanting to be a cheerleader (and becoming on eof those people who only thinks about her hair!). And even though, secretly, they both wish things could be the way they were, neither one of them know how to get back there. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 870 (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition first Printing edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689844212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689844218
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,804,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on February 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Bond of 2 Friends
This book is about 2 girls, Kate and Marilyn, who have been best friends since pre-school and get split up in 6th grade by Flannery. Flannery, a 7th grader, is new to school and the girl's neighborhood. Marilyn and Flannery become friends and leave Kate out. This story is a journey of two friends that get separated and try to learn the true meaning of friendship. We think the true hero of this book was Petey, Marilyn's little brother. Most of us liked Kate or Paisley the best but we liked that Flannery knew what she wanted and was strong and we liked that Marilyn tried to be friends with everyone. We think a better title to this book might be "The Bond Between Two Friends" or "The 6th Grade War". We think this book is at a 6th grade reading level. We think that if you read at a 3rd - 5th grade level you will need your Mom or Dad to help you read it plus it is pretty long. The chapter, Kiss, was kinda gross. Some 8 to 9 year olds might think this chapter about kissing is gross and your Mom might think it is inappropriate for you. You could actually skip this chapter and not miss much of the book. The rest of the book was pretty good. If you are old enough then you might like this chapter but 3rd graders DID NOT. We read this in our Book Club and some girls really liked it, others were not allowed to read it at all - their Moms didn't think it was appropriate and others just covered their ears for some parts they thought were gross. Overall those of us that read the book thought it was good, interesting and emotional. (...)
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Format: Paperback
This book is a heartwarming tale about family and friendship. In the story "The Secret Language of Girls" an eleven year old girl named Kate is ignored by her best friend Marylin and twelve year old neighbor Flannery. Kate and Marylin go their separate ways and go on small adventures without each other but in the end realize that friendship is what they need most, and there are other friends they don't want to keep. I recommend this book to girls of all ages. The names of the characters were confusing at times, but overall I give this book a thumbs up and a four star rating. I loved this book because it taught me a lot about friendship and how valuable it really is. I hope all girls will enjoy this book, and will recommend it to other girls. I thank Frances O'Roark Dowell for writing such a wonderful story.
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A Kid's Review on November 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
I loved this book so much! It was written so well and the characters were described beatifully and I felt like they were real it was so good! Kate seemed like the person I would become best friends with! We read "Dovey Coe" last year in my literarute class and I loved it! This one sounded good,too. I bought it at Half Price books last night and it was SO good that I read all 247 pages in one night! Frances O'Roark Dowell is a great author! I loved this book and it is SO recommended! READ IT NOW!!!
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A Kid's Review on October 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Marylin and Kate had been the best of friends forever. They were going into middle school now and weren't aware that anything would change their friendship. Kate still loved reading, bugs, basketball, and some other kid-like things. On the other hand, Marylin dreams of being a cheerleader, kissing boys, and being one of the more popular girls in school. Everything changes in sixth grade for these two friends.

Flannery is the new girl on their street and she's "the queen of eyeball rolling". She tries to become both of the girl's friends but she only wants to be Marylin's friend. Flannery was a sophisticated seventh grader that wooed Marylin to try to be more like her. By trying to be more like Flannery and more sophisticated, Marylin started to ignore Kate without really realizing it. Kate tried talking to Marylin but Flannery always had to butt in and cut Kate off. As the days had gone by, Kate and Marylin started losing their friendship in the midst of all the commotion that had just begun.

Kate wasn't too in to romance but, she had a slight interest in a fellow basketball teammate of hers. While Kate started to like that boy, Marylin had started hanging out with the more popular girls. Marylin had also tried out for the cheerleading squad and made it. She was turning into what Flannery wanted her to be. They both secretly wished they could talk to each other about everything but they knew they couldn't. Marylin also started ignoring Flannery a little so Flannery tried talking to Kate on the bus. Kate didn't want to get caught up in all of Flannery's sophisticated, seventh grade stuff so she's tried not to say much back to her.

After a few events occur, Kate all of a sudden becomes the star of the school and everyone starts liking her.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Kate's a bit of "late bloomer." She's not really interested in kissing boys, piercing her ears, or trying out for cheerleading. Her best friend, Marilyn, is all of sudden into all of those things. The arrival of the ultra-hip Flannery makes matters worse for Kate. The book follows Kate and Marilyn through sixth grade as they cope with changes in their lives and in their friendship. As they both come into their own, Kate's musings on which of them is really the late bloomer are truly valuable.
Honestly, the book isn't perfect: it's poorly organized and doesn't have a very strong plot line. The family issues both girls experience are just touched upon and the book could have been roudned out by incorporating these issues more in the story. However, this is the best book I've read about girls and the social pressures and changes experienced in junior high. It gives the reader a good look at both independant Kate's and cheerleader Marilyn's sides of the experience and throws in just enough light romance to make you sigh. I'd happpily hand this to any 4th, 5th or 6th grade girl.
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