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When Friendship Followed Me Home Hardcover – June 7, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Ben, a science fiction fan with low self-esteem after years of foster care, meets a stray dog outside the Coney Island Public Library. Flip, with his big eyes and propensity to lick everyone's mouth, in turn helps Ben get to know a girl who is fighting cancer, and her family. When Ben's life gets turned upside down again, Flip remains. This is a "kitchen sink" book; it has bullying, adoption, homelessness, death, abuse, and cancer. However, the optimism of the protagonist combined with the positivity lent by the presence of this loving canine makes this book somehow less hard-hitting than the author's usual YA dramas. Griffin never throws too much at readers at once, taking his protagonist through each successive challenge, and the dialogue remains consistently light and free of overt emotion. References to science fiction and middle grade literature abound, and there's some serious admiration for dogs, librarians, and Jacqueline Woodson's Feathers. The weakest part of this novel is the convoluted science fiction story Ben and the aforementioned girl unspool throughout. The plot-within-a-plot is written by these two imaginative kids with unfettered fancy, with the same quality of a child's writing. If readers can get past those sections, however, the relentless pull of Ben's slow character growth through his drama and the big loving doggy presence will pull misty-eyed readers to the very end. VERDICT If you have middle schoolers who are too young to fully grasp John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and love dogs, give them this sweet tearjerker.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
A People magazine Popular Pick
A Summer 2016 Kids’ Indie Next Pick
A Publishers Weekly Best of Summer Pick
Working Mother magazine's #1 Best Book of the Year So Far
A 2016 Nerdy Book Club Award winner
"[T]his bittersweet, well-paced book…left me with faith that people can feel discarded, as though everything they love will be taken from them, and still end up whole, if they are touched by love of friendship." — The New York Times Book Review
* "Entrancing, magical, tragic, and uplifting." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "As in his young adult books, Griffin (Adrift) handles hard topics with penetrating insight and honesty, while balancing painful moments (and there are many) with levity." — Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "As funny and heartwarming as it is gut-punching...thoroughly engaging." —Shelf Awareness, starred review
* "Although this middle grade book covers some tough topics...it never loses hope." —School Library Connection, starred review
"If you have middle schoolers who are too young to fully grasp John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and love dogs, give them this sweet tearjerker." — School Library Journal
"This is a multi-tissue read...Griffin’s characters are unique and charmingly multidimensional. Readerslooking for a deep read will take to this story as quickly as Flip takes to Ben." — Booklist
"When Friendship Followed Me Home was written for middle-grade readers, yet it will find readership among all ages." —VOYA
"A new classic of young people’s literature.” —workingmother.com
"The story is gripping, the ending bittersweet, and the writing amazing.” —Imagination Soup
"At its core, this book posits a refreshing, if not new, definition of familly.... WHEN FRIENDSHIP FOLLOWED ME HOME is terse and gripping, sad and hilarious, emotional and very, very real.” — Joel Shoemaker, The News-Gazette
"Full of pace and laughter, bruises and heart. Paul Griffin is the sort of writer you're torn between telling the whole world about and keeping all to yourself."—Markus Zusak, author of Printz Honor Winner The Book Thief
“‘Friendship’ is an absolutely beautiful, heart-expanding book. I cried, but more than that I felt this giant balloon of love for everyone. This story convinced me all over again that love and imagination are life’s biggest magic. It’ll make you want to grab hold of everyone important to you and lick them on the nose.” —Rebecca Stead, author of Newbery Award winner When You Reach Me
"Some books change the way you see the world. Some change the way you breathe. This book will leave you breathless. This is Paul Griffin's best book yet—and that's really saying something." —Patricia McCormick, author of National Book Award Finalist Sold
"When Friendship Followed Me Home is both a beautiful book, and an honest book; it is, in fact, beautiful because it is honest. We see the pain of loss, and the glory of community. We see love in its many forms, and we witness the truth that love goes on despite all barriers. Cheer for Ben and Halley: it is kids like these who are our hope.” —Gary D. Schmidt, author of Okay for Now
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Top Customer Reviews
Characters throughout “When Friendship Followed Me Home” depict various segments of individuals in today’s society; each is identifiable and may be relatable to young readers. Ben’s Mom – Tess Coffin - lost her wife Laura before she met Ben, but she still mourns for and misses her long-time partner. Tess’ sister Jeanie is the polar opposite of her sister; she is “Proper” and business-like. Her live-in boyfriend Leo operates an on-line business selling used golf equipment. He is an alcoholic.
Flip’s original owner is now homeless, financially ruined by a chronic illness and unable to afford care, food, or a home. Ben’s best friend Chucky Mull has numerous little sisters and a loving mother – his father never makes an appearance. Angelina Caramello and Ronda Glomski are the “mean girls”, but as the story progresses Angelina begins to show a different side of her personality. Damon Rayburn is a bully; his older brother may be a gang member. There are indications the two come from an abusive home. Halley Lorenz is a courageous ‘tween who is battling a potentially fatal disease. The Lorenz family, while having some unusual characteristics – the father earns his living as Mercurious, a magician - is a loving, traditional family.
The most magical and interesting segments of “When Friendship Followed Me Home” involve the novel, “The Magic Box”, Halley and Ben are writing. Their interaction and the story, itself, are heartwarming. The volunteer work in which Flip and Ben participate – acting as listeners for young, struggling readers – may inspire similar selfless actions.
“When Friendship Followed Me Home” is appropriate for the target age group and any reader who enjoys a heartwarming, sometimes sentimental novel. Language is inoffensive and situations, with the exception of several instances, are not raw or intense. Even these passages are not inappropriate for those in the target group or older.
Yet, then it gets interesting. There are a lot of details I can't share because I don't want to spoil it for any possible readers. I really like Ben and the journey he takes in this book to get him "home." And his friendship with Halley is sweet and wonderful. His relationship with her parents is fitting.
This book touches on a quite a few rough subjects but Author Paul Griffin does it well. I could see this used as a discussion book for class. Do teachers still do something like that? I appreciate Flip's journey too -- I like Flip a whole lot. Chucky's family is weird. Griffin does a wonderful thing in helping us see another side to the nasty bully from school -- not much is touched on there. But there's a hint of it that Ben, the main character also sees the reason for the bully's bad behavior.
This is a middle grade novel and as such it only touches on a lot of subjects. It kind of leaves me wanting more or wish maybe it got a bit deeper in some sections but then again this is Ben and Flip's story.