When I first started reading Sophia Rossi’s A Tale of Two Besties, I was unsure if I was going to like it. I love reading YA novels, but this book is on the cusp of middle grade. There are plenty of adults who love to read middle grade novels, and I applaud them. I cannot wait to read Roald Dahl, Jerry Spinelli, and Kate DiCamillo with my kids one day. But for now, it is teen & adult for me. Besties takes place in ninth grade, and is a novel about being yourself, and friendship. There is no sex or drugs, only one scene I could recall with alcohol. The alcohol scene was tame, and I would never suggest that someone over the age of ten could not read this book.
In the beginning, I was getting a little bit confused about who’s head I was in in the alternating chapters. After a while, Harper and Lilly began to have unique voices; I didn’t like either character very much, but I was sympathetic towards them. Having been a unique dresser in middle school and high school, I could sympathize with Lilly’s being alternately teased and copied when it came to her fashion accessories. I felt like she was definitely a little bit of a manic pixie dream girl at times, but there was no man to save her or change her, and for this I thank Rossi. The male characters in this book were side characters, relegated to best friend and boyfriend, and were not essential to the story at all. While this was refreshing, it would have been nice if there were any POC or LGBT characters in the novel. There were not.
I saw Sophia Rossi speak at the 2015 BookCon in New York City, which I attended on my own dollar. She, Tavi Gevinson, and Akilah Hughes were on a panel together. I would read another book by Rossi, but I would not read a sequel to Besties if there were to be one. However, as a bookseller who works in the children’s department, I will be recommending this book to those who insist that their 10 year old granddaughter is wise beyond her years, in MENSA, and simply cannot read another children’s book.