GN LAR (Reviewing “All My Friends”)

So… a long break from reading for me. Mostly because I’m also running a small business on the side. Sewing took over for the last few months as I figured out what market season looks like as a vendor. I have a better idea of what my year will look like in the future from that side of things. So back to reading once in a while for me. I have a large list of books to chew through before September, so you might find that some of my posts for the foreseeable future will feature older texts. I wish I could do more “new” reading, but I have to power through the WEMTA Battle of the Books 2023 Middle School Division list, first.

A quick new-ish book for this post, though! “All My Friends” by Hope Larson is a quick, simple story following a young girl band called “Fancy Pink”.

Purple and pink cover with text "All My Friends". In center, girl with long black hair plays a electric guitar while a crowd beneath her lifts her up.
Cover for “All My Friends” by Hope Larson

The three girls in the band, Bina, Lora, and Kesi are 8th graders and have landed their first big gig opening for another band called Anne Surly. While the gig doesn’t go off without a hitch (broken guitar string and a fried distortion petal), they do well enough to get noticed and things start taking off for them – they land a deal to license one of their tracks for a streaming network show and then get offered a record deal, but just when everything looks like they’re taking flight, their parents squash their dreams, citing that they’re so young and everything is happening a little too fast. With their record label deal killed, the girls decide to record their first album on their own behind their parents backs. The one problem? Making an album costs money. Money that they definitely don’t have. So what do you do when the only thing standing in your way is cash? You find a way to get it. Oh, and there’s a little romance along the way. 🙂

3 Defects

  1. A negative as much as it is a positive, this story is simple and focused. If you’re hoping for a story with a lot of depth and deeper thinking, this isn’t the one you’re looking for. But I’ll praise the simplistic story in the delights part of this post, too, so to be clear, it’s only a defect if you’re looking for a more complex story.
  2. I feel like I’m missing juicy bits of the story because there isn’t as much detail as I would like. The plot is told almost exclusively through dialogue – there isn’t a whole lot of inner character thought throughout the book and I wish I had a little more.
  3. The story is all illustrated in shades of pink, white, and black. While this has a really interesting vibe, I would have loved more color like there is on the cover.

3 Delights

  1. Like I said up above, this story is simple and focused, which is both a negative and positive. If you’re looking for a book that focuses on the music and the band relationships, this is the one! While there are a couple of romance side angles, they don’t pull the story away from music driven plot.
  2. This is a girl power book with a girl centric story line and I’m here for it, especially in graphic novel format! Super appropriate for readers the same age as the main characters, but also great for younger readers, too! Solidly middle grade/middle school. Also features a diverse cast of characters.
  3. I appreciate that the graphic novel was easy to read – so many graphic artists will go for more eccentric layouts that can sometimes make their graphic novel difficult to read for someone who is new to the format. Larson layouts are varied enough to keep the story visually interesting, but simple enough to follow that the book could easily be someone’s first foray into the world of graphic novels.

All said and done, a solid, uncomplicated story that’s appropriate for middle grade to middle school readers.