Updated: Aug 4, 2020
"The Friendship War" by Andrew Clements is a wonderful book filled with themes of friendship, identity, and gaining self-confidence. When the main character, Grace, accidentally starts a button fad, she finds that her long-time friendship with Ellie (best friend), starts to descend into all-out friendship war. One of the big questions that Clements answers is: can a friendship between two opposites survive the long haul?
I loved this book, and I absolutely agree with The New York Times’ quote on the cover “Andrew Clements is a genius.” Yes, yes he is. After reading “The Friendship War” I can’t wait to read every other book he’s ever written. Also, he used to be a teacher! How awesome is that!? All in all, this book is a keeper and it will have a place on my shelves for the rest of my days.
Recommended Age Group?
I would recommend “The Friendship War” for children aged 10 to 13 (grades 4 to 7). Kids older than 13 will enjoy it as well, but I believe they’ll best identify with the themes between the ages of 10-13. Near the end of the novel, Grace develops a little crush on a boy, and children younger than 10 might not understand the significance of this coming-of-age moment. Clements also addresses a theme of loss in this novel. Grace’s grandma has already passed away as this novel begins, and she thinks about where she might be now and how much she is missed. One of the chapters focuses on Grace’s mom’s opinion of the afterlife, and it’s important that you take some time to talk about loss and grieving with your students when this chapter begins.
This book is appropriate in its language, themes, and dialogue, and I would not hesitate to read this novel in a grade 4-7 classroom setting. I also love the way Clements writes. “The Friendship War” is full of imagery, symbolism, and figurative language. The characters come alive and the themes make you think back to your own middle-school experiences – whether that’s a good or a bad thing!
This book is 100% classroom approved! Your students will have no problem connecting with the various themes of friendship, family, and growing up. They’ll be able to think about their own school’s various fads and take a deeper look into what starts and ends a fad. However, I’ll just warn you now, reading this book might start a button fad in your school!