Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy ( website | twitter )
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: music, bands, friendships with boys
Format read: Borrowed from library
Summary: Char, Oliver, and Tripp have been friends forever. Now, in high school, Char manages and writes songs for Sad Jackal, the band that Oliver and Tripp also play in. But things change more than Charlotte ever thought when Tripp decides to leave the band…
Ahh, the age old question of whether or not guys and girls can really be friends. Readers, I’m here to tell you I still don’t know the answer to that one. I’d like to say yes, but based on my own personal experiences…. it’s not looking too good. And maybe that’s why I connected so strongly to Char’s story. She’s not exactly your typical girl and we know how much that can make you an outcast in high school. She’s not too big on fashion, not the best student, but loves music and manages a band with her two best friends, Oliver and Tripp.
When Tripp leaves the band out of nowhere, the dynamic between the three really changes. Char feels she can’t talk to Tripp about the band anymore which is a total loss to her because they were songwriting partners. Their distance grows even more when Tripp starts hanging out with new friends and the new band members actually start to make the band BETTER. Char also starts crushing on the talented Fabian and gains some attention from Benji, the sweet stoner, from her history class who is helping her study. (Hello, Marcus Flutie fans!)
THERE ARE BOYS EVERYWHERE.
All of a sudden a guy magnet and, not only managing but SINGING in the band, Char is in totally new territory.
After reading The Summer of Firsts and Lasts and now this particular book, I am a certified Terra Elan McVoy fan. Char’s home life is a little unsteady with her older sister, Jilly, away at college and the blending of her new family, which includes two stepsisters. But there is never any hate between any of them. All the girls are really different but it is because of Char’s recent excitement that they come together in this grand way. I loved seeing them get closer. Then Char starts to feel lonely when Jilly is hard to nail down during her first semester. I could only think of my own little sister and wonder if she ever felt like that about me when I left for college the first time. McVoy is a pro when it comes to writing about the complexities of sister relationships. I always leave the scenes intensely missing my own family and home in general, when I could just wake up to Turkey Day at my house and not have to drive there or skip it all together. The sense of home and family is just so on target.
Charlotte, who is sort of directionless when it comes to her future, is forced to make decisions for herself without her sister and Tripp. And she doesn’t always make the right ones. She struggles a lot and overthinks and feels pretty helpless at times too. The hurt she feels from Tripp’s treatment punched me right in the heart so many times (“You’re the one who knows me. I thought he knew it already, but maybe I need to tell him. Maybe that would make a difference. But maybe too—and this snaps me into action…because I don’t want to think about it—maybe he does know how much he means to me. And maybe he’s doing it anyway.”) How one day it’s normal to talk to someone every day and on another, it’s normal to not.
McVoy takes familiar themes and continues to make them refreshing and new; she never makes the typical moves while still injecting emotion in a way we can relate to – some days we are wallowing and others we are laughing. I never really know the ending of these stories until I reach the final page. I still have to do a little work to get there and as a reader, I appreciate that so much.