Friend trouble in #mglit is practically ubiquitous because… Art imitates life. Perhaps a less-desirable afterlife option would be to repeat the seventh grade as a less-than-most-popular girl.
And that’s without a magical phone app. In Jen Calonita’s THE RETAKE, twelve-year-old Zoe tries to use a retroactive Instagram-like app to try to win back her friendship with former best friend Sarah.
It’s like a better-written Groundhog Day with social media and a funky vintage-styled fairy godmother named Marge (who is so ridiculously incongruous to the book, she totally works).
Zoe is desperate to cling to her childhood BFF Sarah, who seems to be growing up faster than she and moving on to different friends. And of course, the cool girls have documented their lit lives on Instagram for all to see.
After a comically disastrous first day of seventh grade, Zoe finds an app called Retake on her phone which allows her to skip around in time and try to redo pieces of the summer where she feels like she lost Sarah.
Hilarity does not ensue… OK, it kind of does, but so do a lot of eye-opening disasters. Through it all, both Zoe and the reader are able to see that neither girl is a bad person, but that we can outgrow friendships.
I was a little concerned that with all the time jumping it would be hard for me to track the story, but Calonita is such a master of her craft that Retake is a fun escape and likely soul balm to a preteen with a changing social circle.
As a mom I’m not crazy about the idea of preteens living and breathing social media… till the end of the story where Zoe/Calonita gently call out social media’s facades. However, this is a fictional story, that effectively drives home messages about friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself.
THE RETAKE is both a fun read and a strong morality tale with a happy-enough ending.
Thank you to Jen Calonita and to Random House for sharing the ARC with #BookAllies!
THE RETAKE is available now.