’11 Before 12′ by Lisa Greenwald will put you right back in that time of your life when everything mattered too much and nothing at all mattered more than your best friend. Kaylan and Arianna find this to be true as they gear up for sixth grade. They are chock full of excitement as they decide to make a list of all of the tasks they want to complete before turning twelve in November. Having their birthdays one day apart has convinced them of the need to plan a joint twelfth birthday party to celebrate their friendship and the new age that will bring them what they consider so much more of out of life.
Instead they find that the list starts to tear them apart. While Kaylan wants to stay true to the list and everything they’ve planned for it, including doing it together, Arianna is more open to bringing other people in and allowing them to be part of what Kaylan considers a super-special best-friends-only listing of tasks for the girls to share. While they do a few items together, they also find that they are finishing some separately. It was nice to understand Kaylan’s point of view throughout the whole story since it is really quite a spot-on indicator of how any girl in her position would feel, worried about losing her best friend, but hopeful that things will eventually work out. However, hearing Arianna’s point of view a bit more throughout would have been helpful. As the novel progresses, we learn more about how she feels about it all, but a dual look at their lives may have enhanced the storytelling a bit. Yet, this was not really an issue.
From Kaylan’s worry over which boy to kiss and how to make a guy friend to Arianna’s new friends, lunch table gossip abounds, and the two friends are left sitting on the sidelines of each other’s lives, waiting to be filled in with the nitty gritty details. Any reader will feel smack dab back in the action of middle school, as Lisa Greenwald creates the questions of how Kaylan and Arianna will move forward, how their troubles will affect their futures, and how family can matter more than a sixth grader believes, especially when on the outs with your best friend forever. A definite must read for any young adult and middle grade novel lovers!
You can find ’11 Before 12′ by Lisa Greenwald here.
*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*