The Friendship Lie

The Friendship Lie
Age Range
Release Date
August 01, 2019
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Cora Davis's life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels--to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster. But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents' trash-tracking studies: Things don't always go where they're supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person's trash is another's treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. Written by Rebecca Donnelly, author of How to Stage a Catastrophe (an Indies Introduce and Indie Next List honoree), The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

Editor review

1 review
When a friendship should be tossed
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Cora and Kyle live in San Francisco with their father, who is an environmental scientist who studies where trash goes after it is discarded. Their mother is a similar scientist, and when the parents divorced, the mother took a year long assignment in Belgium. In addition to missing her mother, Cora is dealing with a misunderstanding between her and her best friend, Sybella. A new girl, Marnie, has started at the girls' school, and wants to be best friends with both of them, but Cora feels like Sybella is abandoning her. This is especially wrenching since the twins and Sybella shared an imaginery world called Aquafaba, and now Cora doesn't want to have much to do with it. When a poem written in a moment of weakness finds its way to Sybella's possession, Sybella doesn't know how to approach her friend about being accused of being a "friend abandoner". Since Sybella is working on some projects with Kyle, things are complicated. Marnie doesn't help, and is seemingly glad to have caused a rift between the friends. Will the best friends be able to make their way back to each other, or will they forever bag and bin their relationship?
Good Points
The San Francisco setting of this book is quite charming, and the lengths to which the father wants to go to stop waste are admirable. From only letting the twins have one phone to limit e waste to not driving a car unless it can be fueled with compost, Dr. Davis' commitment to the environment is admirable. The school the children attends has a trashlympics, a competition for art made from found objects, and is also committed to sustainability. I wish there were more of this in children's literature; the more children are exposed to these themes, the more likely they are to practice recycling on their own.

Friendship drama is a big concern of fifth graders, and they handle it is a distinctly different way than their older middle school counterparts. Cora is devastated both by Sybella's actions and by her own thoughtlessness, and is worried from the start that Marnie might supplant her in Sybella's affections. The fact that an entire childhood imaginary world hangs in the balance makes this even more poignant.

Readers who like books that deal with the complexity of school and friends, like Clement's The Friendship War, Hunt's Fish in a Tree, Buyea's Mr. Terupt series and Russell's Dork Diaries will appreciate this thoughtful look at the dynamics of friends and family, and how the actions even of elementary students have a significant impact on the world at large.
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