Friday, December 19, 2014

Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting (And lives to tell about it) by Tommy Greenwald

Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting (And lives to tell about it) by Tommy Greenwald. 227 p. Roaring Brook Press, February 17, 2015. 9781596438378. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher)

Charlie Joe Jackson's best friend, Katie Friedman gets her own book because she has a story to tell. Don't worry, CJJ fans, Charlie Joe is involved. It was a text that Katie thought she was sending to Charlie Joe and inadvertently sent to Nareem that started all the drama. 

Readers of Charlie Joe's earlier books will already know that his best friend, Katie has been dating Nareem. She likes him enough, but doesn't think she like-likes him anymore. When she tries to discuss the problem with her friends at lunch, they are all so involved with texting and instagramming and updating social network statuses that no one pays attention. This totally annoys her, but when she tries to call them out on it, they point out that she's a huge offender as well. 

Later, during math, she decides that she'll break up with him during study hall even though she's very tempted to do it via text. She sends Nareem an illegal text saying that she needed to tell him something and is surprised to receive one from him saying the same. Wait a second. Katie wonders if he's going to break up with her!

One look at his face in study hall tells her that he's not. It turns out he has tickets to Plain Jane, only Katie's favorite rock band. On top of that, his dad has arranged for back stage passes! How can she break up with him now? 

So she doesn't. And she goes to the concert and it's amazing and Nareem is amazing. She gets to meet Jane backstage and Jane is amazing. So, where does this errant text fit in? What drives Katie to part with her precious phone for a week? Will she be able to convince her friends to do so as well? Sorry. You've got to read this fast-paced exploration of being hyper-connected to find out.

This one requires a willingness to suspend a bit of belief, something young readers will have no difficulty doing. I stuttered for just a moment before diving right in. Tommy Greenwald has a keen eye for tween life, a flare for dialogue that rings true and a knack for creating gently humorous situations reflecting a variety of issues kids face without heavy-handed messaging. He respects his audience and trusts they will draw their own conclusions. This is why the shelf containing multiple copies of his books in my library is always empty from September through June. It's why I've had to replace stolen copies. His books make non-readers readers. His books make all readers laugh as they recognize themselves or friends within the pages. I can't wait to booktalk this.

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