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Just Friends


Just Friends

JUST FRIENDS by Dyan Sheldon is the typical, adorable story of a shy, awkward high school boy meeting the "new" girl at school and immediately falling head over heels for her. While Jena may not be feeling exactly the same right away, they quickly build a friendship --- a friendship that Josh is happy to settle for, because he's so smitten with her that any amount of attention from Jena (no matter how big or small) is worth soaking up. The only downside? That leads to some negative things: because he's fallen so hard for Jena, Josh finds himself neglecting his family, his school responsibilities and even his few friends (including his previous best friend, Ramona) who had been there for him before Jena had even enrolled in their school. So in addition to navigating his budding feelings for Jena, Josh has to handle that rocky terrain as well. Which inevitably leads to lots of drama!

"What I enjoyed most about this book was how it tackled something that was not a meet-cute....I think that's an important story to read, especially as a teenager...."

Soon enough, though, Josh finds himself unable to hold in his building feelings for Jena any longer, and he makes a promise to himself to reveal his true feelings to Jena on Valentine's Day. Which gets a little rocky because Jena only seems to come to him when there's drama involving her on-again, off-again boyfriend. (Talk about the friendzone!) Things get a little messy there, that's for sure. But that means you'll keep turning the pages, and before long, you start to grow sympathetic towards poor Josh, who just wants to make his feelings known to a girl that he immediately thinks is so amazing and incredible.

What I enjoyed most about this book was how it tackled something that was not a meet-cute --- it tackles the question of what happens when you find yourself falling for someone even when you know your relationship isn't going to work. I think that's an important story to read, especially as a teenager, because there are definitely instances in your life where you will find yourself having emotions (and even crushes) on people that, for one reason or another, won't logistically work out, or the person won't treat you well and you deserve better. So it was refreshing to read a story that didn't only focus on an insta-love between two characters where everything was perfect sunshine and rainbows. (But don't get me wrong --- I absolutely love those types of stories as well! Sometimes it's just refreshing to read something else.)

There were only a few things I wasn't super crazy about with this book, one being the fact that even though it's classified as a YA novel, it seems to be written for a little bit younger of an audience. The storytelling was very simple and matter-of-fact, each sentence being terse and descriptive. (Think along the lines of, "He did this. And then he did this. And then she said this.") So while it was certainly an easy read to get through, it felt like this book may have better been classified as a middle grade. Other than that, the only thing I wasn't super keen on was Jena's character --- I wasn't a big fan of how she treated Josh, and I'm a super big fan of adorable romance stories, so having a story where the two main characters have a friendship/relationship that is anything less than perfect is always a bit of a bummer, however refreshing it may feel. But the actual story itself was cute and funny and kept me laughing!

Overall, I'm glad I received the chance to read JUST FRIENDS. It was a cute, funny story about two kids colliding in high school and learning the struggles of being both friends and something "more" with one another. If you're looking for a super quick and adorable read, JUST FRIENDS is certainly the book for you. You can even recommend it to a younger, middle grade audience if you know someone who would like this book --- it's the type of storytelling that can span both age groups!

Reviewed by Jessica Cozzi on February 14, 2018

Just Friends
by Dyan Sheldon

  • Publication Date: February 13, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Young Adult 13+
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763693545
  • ISBN-13: 9780763693541