We have seen Brianna before; her mother does drama camps and encourages her daughter to be more forthcoming. We do learn some interesting information about the mother's own performance at her bat mitzvah, which sheds a lot of light on her motivations for encouraging Brianna.
Friend drama is a constant in middle school relationships, and the desire to make new friends, especially ones seen as more popular, is a source of difficulties. Emmie is more realistic about Zoe's motivations, and has a lot of cogent observations about how real friends interact. Of course, Brianna dismisses them. It is good to see that Brianna eventually understands Zoe's motivations, and has managed to make some new friends in the meantime. When she invites these new friends to her party, I thought it was very interesting how she negotiated with her mother how she would pay for their meals.
Freedman's My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, Weissman's A Length of String, and Rosenberg and Shang's This is Just a Test all cover Jewish culture and coming of age ceremonies, but since this is a key component to the middle school experience for many young readers, we can use many more books on the topic. Brianna does talk about some issues of faith, which is a bit unusual and very welcome. My own experience of confirmation class in seventh grade was very pivotal in my religious beliefs.
Readers who enjoyed Telgemeier's coverage of anxiety in Guts, Jamieson's trouble with fitting in in All's Faire in Middle School and Scrivan's Nat Enough will be eagerly awaiting this new installment of Libenson's work.