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“It’s been a while since I read a middle-grade book, but this bittersweet tale of adolescent friendship was certainly worth making an exception for. The relationships are messy and complicated, and while parents and peers ‘just don’t understand,’ the novel doesn’t try to paint miscommunication as an insurmountable part of growing up, but rather a problem to be rectified. This is a tale of self-discovery and shame, of realizing your parents aren’t perfect and you aren’t either, and an important book for anyone who has ever lost a friend or wondered why things can’t stay the same forever. If you’re looking for catharsis, That’s What Friends Do will deliver.”
— Reid Wilson, Prairie Pages Bookseller, Pierre, SD
A heartfelt and powerful debut novel for fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and John David Anderson, That’s What Friends Do is a book for anyone learning how to have the hard conversations about feelings, boundaries, and what it means to be a true friend.
Samantha Goldstein and David Fisher have been friends ever since they met on their town’s Little League baseball team. But when a new kid named Luke starts hanging out with them, what was a comfortable pair becomes an awkward trio.
Luke’s comments make Sammie feel uncomfortable—but all David sees is how easily Luke flirts with Sammie, and so David decides to finally make a move on the friend he’s always had a crush on.
Soon things go all wrong and too far, and Sammie and David are both left feeling hurt, confused, and unsure of themselves, without anyone to talk to about what happened.
As rumors start flying around the school, David must try to make things right (if he can) and Sammie must learn to speak up about what’s been done to her.
A Bank Street Children's Best Book of the Year
An Indie Next List Pick
Cathleen Barnhart holds a BA in creative writing from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. That’s What Friends Do is her first published novel.
“A dazzling debut, That’s What Friends Do is a gorgeous, heartbreaking, and deeply felt tribute to the power of friendship.” — Paul Griffin, author of When Friendship Followed Me Home
“Barnhart artfully weaves two viewpoints together, offering a frank portrayal of middle school struggles and the ever-changing nature of friendship.” — Dee Romito, author of The BFF Bucket List
"The book opens the doors to honest and truthful experiences of damage as a result of gender stereotypes that painfully impact both girls and boys." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“A careful introduction to consent and sexual harassment for a middle-grade audience... A worthy, timely, ambitious debut.” — Kirkus Reviews
"Readers who are beginning to navigate more complicated emotions and personal boundaries will appreciate this story which deftly handles sensitive topics like inappropriate touching and body autonomy." — School Library Journal
"Fans of Barbara Dee, Ali Benjamin, and Lynda Mullaly Hunt will find this discussion of shattered friendships, toxic masculinity and bullying to be a riveting read." — Young Adult Books Central
"Told in dual perspectives, this important book will generate conversations about rape culture, consent, and positive relationships." — A Mighty Girl