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Reviewed by:
  • That's What Friends Do by Cathleen Barnhart
  • Miriam Larson

Barnhart, Cathleen That's What Friends Do. Harper, 2020 [352p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-288893-8 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-288895-2 $7.99 Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 5-7

Sammie and David play baseball on the same team, hide out in their secret fort together, and joke around, and Sammie wants everything to stay the same. David wishes he could share his true feelings with her, though, and in the big-talking new boy, Luke, he finds an example of how to flirt with girls. In an effort to emulate Luke, David impulsively kisses Sammie and accidentally paws her breast (he loses his balance on a moving bus), leaving Sammie feeling violated and betrayed by her best friend. Sammie's narration takes the reader through the painful and isolating experience of sexual harassment (which she experiences in two other instances with boys at school as well) and her ultimately finding support and care from her parents and a new friend. David's perspective illustrates his isolating experience of choosing to "play it cool" instead of owning up to his transgression, speaking his true feelings, and honoring his friendship. Barnhart takes the reader even further [End Page 202] into the consequences of boys' social anxiety in a culminating crisis when Luke runs away and nearly freezes to death after being ganged up on. Readers may be left wanting positive models of consent and open communication, but the book opens the doors to honest and truthful experiences of damage as a result of gender stereotypes that painfully impact both girls and boys.



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pp. 202-203
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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