Review | That’s What Friends Do

that's what friends do

Summary: That’s What Friends Do

In That’s What Friends Do, Sammie and David are best friends who first met at Little League. As the only girl on the baseball team, Sammie enjoys being one of the guys and she and David get along excellently. She also thinks all the other girls do “girly” things which she feels are not her style. She’s convinced herself that she’s just better being friends with the boys. Things are great until a new boy, Luke moves into the neighborhood.

Luke is taller than David and keeps trying to flirt with Sammie even though it obviously makes her uncomfortable. While Sammie looks to David for support, David — who has a crush on Sammie — is preoccupied with being jealous of Luke’s seemingly “smooth” skills. As a result, David starts to focus on making his affections known to Sammie just as Luke seems to be doing. Eventually, an incident on the bus between David and Sammie jeopardizes their friendship and forces Sammie to re-examine the meaning of true friendship.

The Good

I really liked this book. The audiobook is fantastic and I remember being in awe of the author’s ability to craft a gripping story as I listened. Most girls will remember having been verbally harassed and even inappropriately touched by a boy despite protests in middle-school (or junior secondary school). So this story is bound to hit home as Sammie deals with her circumstances. What I enjoyed most about this book is the way the author balances sensitivity with seriousness. Inappropriate behavior is not downplayed, but at the same time, the boys’ characters are not one-dimensional. I also loved that there were consequences for their actions.

Another wonderful aspect of this book is the way it elevates female friendships. One of my favorite quotes is from Sammie’s mother:

There are different ways to be a woman.

Cathleen Barnhart, That’s What Friends Do

Sammie learns that she can befriend other girls without liking everything they like. She is welcomed into the life-changing experience of female friendships and this teaches her to be a better friend to the boys when that time comes. This book also shows the value of open communication between parents and their children and how vital it is that parents be a safe space for their kids both when they’re in trouble and when their dreams change.

Overall: That’s What Friends Do

I loved everything about this wonderful wholesome story. That’s What Friends Do is a realistic portrayal of the tumultuous years between childhood and adolescence. It examines closely the need for young people to recognize and respect boundaries, especially where sexual harassment is concerned. Books like these are invaluable for helping young people understand toxic masculinity and consent. This is a book worth putting in as many young hands as possible.

That's What Friends Do is a realistic portrayal of the tumultuous years between childhood and adolescence. It examines closely the need for young people to recognize and respect boundaries, especially where sexual harassment is concerned. Click To Tweet

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that's what friends do cathleen barnhart

Have you read this book or any other middle-grade books that handle consent and sexual harassment sensitively? Please leave me your recommendations! See 43 more books about friendships here.

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2 thoughts on “Review | That’s What Friends Do

  1. Great review; I would really like to read this one. I appreciate what you’ve written about the boy characters not being one-dimensional. I think that’s important for a book like this to make the most difference it can, in the hands of middle grade readers, if that makes any sense!

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