Where You'll Find Me
After reading just a few pages of WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME, you will feel like you have entered the eighth grade with Anna Collette. Author Natasha Friend offers vivid descriptions of realistic characters in a heartwarming story of social acceptance in middle school. Her addictive, adorable, adolescent tale reassures young readers to stay true to themselves.
Told in the first person, this novel follows as endearing Anna explains just how “it' works at Shelby Horner Middle School, where all of the rules have changed since elementary school. Teenage girls can relate to the importance of “your hair, your personality, and your jeans.” So when Anna’s best friend with perfect jeans --- “indigo, low-rise, frayed just right” --- becomes popular following summer break, Anna sits alone at lunch.
WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME succeeds because it combines serious topics, such as divorce and depression, with humorous adventure. While reading the novel, I found myself wishing I could be as brave as Anna....
In addition to being dumped by her BFF Dani, Anna finds herself separated from her mother, who is in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. Staying with her oblivious father, health-conscious stepmom and new baby sister, the 13-year-old struggles to survive crisis, kale and crying. Though Friend accurately portrays the frustrations of divorce, she gives readers a stepmother to adore. Pretty, 24-year-old Marnie watches “Cupcake Wars” with Anna, gives her a cell phone and takes the troubled teen on a spontaneous trip to Atlanta. Throughout, Marnie offers emotional support to Anna.
The awkward adolescent also finds a connection with Sarabeth Mueller, “so pale you can see her veins,” and Shawna Wendall, “who actually looks like a witch” with silvery black nail polish. Their surprising union leads to fun and friendship. And their smashing singing performance in a school talent show lands them peer approval.
Though feel-good moments contribute to the book’s appeal, dramatic events provide the audience with insight into real life problems. Anna’s mother, Fran, shares her battle with depression. She explains, “It’s like an avalanche. No warning. You’re just knocked off your feet. You reach for a ledge…no ledge. You reach for a branch…no branch. You just keep falling.” The reader shares in Fran’s struggles.
WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME succeeds because it combines serious topics, such as divorce and depression, with humorous adventure. While reading the novel, I found myself wishing I could be as brave as Anna, as she remains who she is even when everyone around her changes. Her perseverance would definitely come in handy in the halls of any high school. Natasha Friend has made WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME a must-read for all young adults.
If you’re interested in more of Friend’s reads, check out MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE and FOR KEEPS.
Reviewed by Juliette G., Teen Board Member on March 4, 2016