“TrooFriend” by Kirsty Applebaum is a futuristically relatable novel, filled with androids, mistakes, and friendship. The main character, Sarah, is very much like any other 7th grader and Applebaum does a fantastic job writing her into existence. Ivy, her TrooFriend android, bought as a manufactured friend for Sarah, is lively and unpredictable. “TrooFriend” is a fun, quick read, and a great addition to any home or classroom bookshelf.
I enjoyed thinking about what I would do if I were in the main character’s shoes. It really isn’t such an odd idea to think that robots could someday be used to replace friends. If that were ever to happen, how would society as a whole react when one of those robots accidentally (or purposely) hurts a child? Applebaum ignites some interesting ideas and makes you question what the future could look like.
Recommended Age Group?
The novel’s lessons about friendship are a great reminder for any age. The publisher’s recommended age group is 8-12, and I would agree. However, 8-year-olds might not fully understand all of the “TrooFriend” themes and inferences written within the pages.
One of the larger themes that weaves throughout this novel is whether androids can have human feelings, and what if they did? How would they be treated? When Sarah starts to see human feelings in her TrooFriend, she starts to feel protective over her android, especially when society as a whole begins to distrust androids. This distrust isn’t necessarily misplaced, due to the fact that there have been reports of some androids hurting children, usually accidentally because they are so much stronger than humans.
Applebaum has created a plot that invites a sequel. We may see more TrooFriend novels in the works soon.
This book is definitely classroom approved and best suited for grades 3-7. Sarah learns some relevant lessons for a pre-teen, and every middle-schooler will be able to relate with her problems, even if they involve human-like robots.
The novel is short enough that you can easily use it as a class read-aloud, and I have no doubt that it will spark conversation among your students.
Check out the Novel Study for Kirsty Applebaum's