The Real Deal

The Real Deal
Age Range
Release Date
October 25, 2022
‎ 978-0063206854
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Not every friendship can be the real deal, but for Gabe and Oliver, that’s never been a question.

Until now. Things still feel the same on the surface—they’re even making a comic about their friendship—but lately Oliver’s acting like he might be hiding something.

And then there’s Reuben, the new boy who just moved to town. He doesn’t talk—not ever. The other kids say mean things and call him names behind his back. Gabe knows it isn’t right—but he and Oliver stay quiet, or worse, laugh along with the others just to keep from standing out.

Through the character he and Oliver create in their comic adventure, the experience they have babysitting twin toddlers, and with the help of a troublemaking seventh grader who gets sent to their sixth-grade class, Gabe begins to find his voice and become the realest-deal version of his own self. But if he does that—can he still hold onto his best friend, too?

Editor review

1 review
A book about finding your voice
(Updated: January 15, 2023)
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The Real Deal perfectly captures the struggle of not following the crowd and doing what is right. Gabe is a sixth grader who experiences whether they should stand up for a student being made fun of or say nothing and fly under the radar of the bully. Reuben is mute and is mocked by Gabe's classmates because of his differences and Gabe knows that by sitting silently he is no better than the bullies. Lindsey Stoddard makes Gabe's dilemma very relatable and makes it very clear that doing the right thing is not always easy.

The Real Deal is not just a story about standing up to bullies it is also about friendship. Oliver's parents are divorced and his story about missing his father is very emotional and heartbreaking. I love how Stoddard shows that boys don't need to be tough and can have emotions. Gabe is an amazing empathetic friend to Oliver and is a great example of being "the real deal". The book balances the heavy storylines with some humorous scenes. Gabe and Oliver take on the job of babysitting twin toddlers which creates some funny moments that are much needed.

I could have devoured this book in one day, but instead, I read it slowly and savored it not wanting it to the end. I hope that every middle grade reader gets to experience Gabe, Oliver and Ruben's friendship.
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