4 out of 4 stars
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Forever Twelve is a young adult novel that tells the story of two best friends in transition from the carefree innocence of childhood to the more complicated teen years. The story is told in first person, and alternates between the perspectives of the two main characters: shy, innocent Corey and fashionable, artistic Andi.
The two friends meet each other at the beginning of their seventh grade year, after accepting to work together on the advice column for their school's newspaper. In spite of their obvious differences, they hit it off right away and are soon best friends. Working under the title of The Advice Avengers, Corey and Andi begin helping the student body one letter at a time, and soon make a name for themselves in the halls of Emerson Middle School. But although the girls are good at helping others work through their problems, they have a more difficult time sorting out their own, and many surprises await the two friends as they navigate the uncharted waters of adolescence.
To begin, I have to say that the writing in this book is superb. It is clear, descriptive, and free of grammatical errors. Forever Twelve is one of the more carefully edited novels that I have reviewed to date, and has the same quality I would expect from a bookstore purchase. The language and first-person perspectives are somewhat reminiscent of a personal childhood favorite, The Babysitter's Club.
The main characters are wonderfully engaging and realistic. Both Corey and Andi are three-dimensional and relatable to the book's target audience (middle grade girls). The use of an alternating first-person perspective maximizes the appeal of the novel, as shy readers will relate well to Corey, while more outgoing readers will gravitate toward Andi.
What I enjoyed most about this novel is that it maintains an overall positive outlook on life without being unrealistically optimistic. The language is clean, and the main characters do not engage in any inappropriate or questionable behavior. However, both Corey and Andi are faced with a number of complicated issues, such as teen pregnancy, depression, substance abuse, and the loss of a loved one. I respect that the author chose to address these issues, as many preteens and teens will encounter them at some point. However, instead of making Corey and Andi victims of these complicated situations, the author uses them to empower the girls. The two friends stay focused on finding solutions to their problems while encouraging their friends and classmates to do likewise. Although young, Corey and Andi are strong, competent role models for preteen girls.
Lastly, I really appreciated the inclusion of positive authority figures for the girls to turn to in times of trouble. Corey's mother, Andi's father, and the girls' English teacher are caring, competent adults that have the girls' best interests at heart. I feel that trustworthy, competent adults are vastly underrepresented in young adult literature, and it was refreshing to see that the main characters were not left to their own devices to solve every problem that arose in the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give it 4 out of 4 stars. Forever Twelve is an excellent choice for girls aged 11-14 who are (or soon will be) in middle school.
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