What it’s about: Eighth grader Nicki Ames has been best friends with Ava for five whole years, so when their gym teacher tells everyone to pair up with their best friend, Nicki knows who she’ll be next to. Only Ava doesn’t choose her. She chooses one of the popular girls instead.
Nicki isn’t sure if she’s been abandoned in front of her whole class, or if she’s just reading too much into a simple action. But as the weeks drag by and Ava barely talks to Nicki, she has to ask herself: if Ava is being a bad best friend, does that mean Nicki should just wait for her to come around? Or is this her opportunity to strike out on her own?
Why we chose it: Over the years, I’ve probably read hundreds of realistic fiction novels. Some I’ve loved. Some I’ve hated. Out of all of those, there are only a small number which really spoke to me and felt as though they accurately portrayed the lives of middle schoolers today—and among those, Bad Best Friend is a standout. Blending sensitive, accurate portrayals of tweens, conflicts, and families with a full cast of characters, each with an astonishing amount of nuance, this book feels as though it gives voice to the complexities, uncertainties, and messiness of middle school without ever being forced, preachy, or simply inaccurate. This is a book which I feel should be widely read, because it gives voice to some of the most universal feelings of tweens which are rarely explored in novels in a way that considers the layers and confusion of these events in the most authentic way possible.