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Worst Enemies / Best Friends (Beacon Street Girls)
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By Annie Bryant

Young girls, as they develop from children into independent individuals, must learn self-value despite the flaws that they and others see. That they naturally accentuate the advantages they see in others only magnifies their perception of the gravity of their own shortcomings.

This book helps the reader move beyond these perceptions by presenting the evolution from impression to understanding of four girls entering junior high school. The lesson learned by the characters (and most likely picked up by the young reader) is that everyone faces challenges in life, but we also have advantages that balance them. When acting as a group, these pluses and minuses can complement each other (one's flaws allows others to showcase their strengths) to become the basis of acceptance within a group and the foundation for lasting friendships.

Written in a modern, quick reading style mimicking and incorporating touches of today's Internet age, the book is action oriented with few long reflective passages. It touches lightly on issues of race and class but dismisses or deals with each in the manner as might be expected of children this age. There are a number of contemporary/ regional references that will be missed by many readers and a few plot elements that strain credibility (such as keeping the dog a secret), but these can be overlooked as necessary to create the right setting to tell the story and deliver its message. Indeed, these are small sacrifices that yield both fun reading and an age appropriate message unclouded by other overtones.

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