Real Friends: 05/30/17
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a graphic novel memoir of the author's elementary school years. The book is divided up into friendships with the name of the main person Shannon was friends with at the time — or the person who seemed to be in control of the social dynamics of her grade or class.
In contrast to Shannon's experience at school is her life as a middle child in a family of five. Her oldest sister, the one who Shannon most admired and most feared is shown sometimes as a giant grizzly bear.
This memoir though isn't a nostalgic romp through the 1970s and 1980s. It has its hear-breaking moments — as young Shannon copes with her anxiety through counting rituals, and daydreaming herself as a superhero or a super-spy.
It's not an idealized story of how young Shannon learned how to be popular and make friends with everyone. It's more about how she struggled through bullying — mistaking it for friendship — and how she got the guidance she needed from older girls and learned how to love herself and how to befriend those who needed friends.