Cover image for Friends first
Friends first
McDonnell, Christine.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 1990.
Physical Description:
171 pages ; 22 cm
An eighth grade girl faces the evolving relationships, complex changes, and changing feelings arising from her first steps into adulthood.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 6.0 30184.
Format :


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FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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AIDS and the deaths resulting from the disease impact increasingly large numbers of individuals and families. The survivors often mourn confused and alone. For the first time, this authoritative, sensitive work offers not only necessary recognition of the needs of the bereaved but also affords clinicians and counselors well founded recommendations for appropriate interventions. The stigma so often associated with AIDS and the obstacles and reactions it occasions for survivors is thoroughly examined and methods of responding are given.

Dane and Miller, in describing theories of grief and bereavement and in offering a remarkably clear treatment of the AIDS crisis and its import, establish a context for discussing the reactions and intervention needs of subsets of survivors - children, adolescents, women, families, lovers, and others. Short case studies vividly illustrate the grief, feelings of guilt, sense of loss, and other reactions requiring understanding and counsel. The examples allow the authors to explore the important distinctions and principles essential to caring, constructive support.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-8. Miranda and Gus have been best friends since they've been toddlers. Now that they're in eighth grade, Miranda feels their relationship altering a little, especially after she has two dangerous run-ins with men. Miranda begins to feel uncomfortable with Gus and ashamed of her femaleness, which in her mind, causes untoward attention. Though this is an interesting new angle in the growing-up genre, there are several other plot threads here that don't ring true. For instance, Miranda's beloved live-in babysitter is fired when she gives Miranda all sorts of misinformation about menstruation and sex ("Luckily women are made to bear pain. It's their duty"). It strains credibility that a big-city, with-it lawyer like Miranda's mom hasn't told her daughter the facts of life yet, nor been aware of the babysitter's attitude--a woman who's been with the family since Miranda was three. Likewise, Miranda and Gus' joint writing venture, a romance featuring a girl and an alien, interrupts the story even though it is the device Miranda and Gus use to communicate when their relationship gets rocky. Fortunately, the young people in the story are all likable and believable. Readers will respond to their familiarity and may ponder some of the issues the book raises about growing up. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Miranda and Gus have been best friends forever. They are always together, riding bikes, watching horror flicks, reading books or writing their new story, ``Alien Attraction.'' During their eighth-grade year, however, Miranda is propelled into adolescence and her friendship with Gus begins to change. Growing into a young woman both excites and frightens Miranda; she is confused by her emotions, and the long-term friendship only complicates things. She tries to avoid Gus, but as she comes to understand her feelings, she realizes that he will always have a special place in her life. Sharp, sensitive details and clever analogies highlight the narrative, as McDonnell candidly yet delicately explores what reaching adolescence means for a girl in today's world. Although the dialogue is occasionally stiff, both characters and plot are infused with credibility. Ages 10-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8 Miranda and Gus have been best friends since infancy; his family has become an extended family to her and her mother, Fran, especially after the death of Miranda's father. During her eighth-grade year, Miranda experiences many changes. She loses the company of Emma, the housekeeper, after Emma and Fran disagree on sex education. Miranda is attacked in her hallway one day; although she is not hurt, she must acknowledge her vulnerability--especially to men. Newly aware of her own sexuality, she now feels frightened and ashamed. She even begins to exclude Gus from her life. Through his support and her mother's, Miranda is able to deal with the attack and establish a changed but special relationship with Gus. The story has enough familiar Boston landmarks to give concreteness to the events. The characters are quite believable, chronicling the curiosity, excitement, happy/sad emotions of a 14-year-old, as well as the fear caused by an encounter with modern life's violence. The adults are realistically portrayed; Fran displays the frustration and pain of any parent who wishes to protect a child and cannot. The story deals honestly with sexual harassment and sexual violence, presenting no magic answer, but concludes with the expressions and accomodations that allow the characters to cope with life's realities. --Carol A. Edwards, East Central Regional Lib . , Cambridge, MN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.