Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com
Annie Davis is a tomboy. It's not surprising since she's the only girl out of six kids. Not to mention the only girl in the area. Her nearest and best girlfriends, Rose and Della, live miles away. Now that she's eleven, Annie's mom has decided it's time for her to learn how to be a "proper girl." No more baseball, no more fishing, tree climbing, playing with the boys, and so on. Now it's all cooking, and sewing, and, well, girl stuff.
When Iris Elizabeth moves in down the street, Annie gets to see a real lady-in-training. Iris teaches Annie about silk dresses and the theater and popularity. Iris tells Annie they are "true friends." But Iris is often conniving and manipulative, and her friendship is conditional. If Annie wants to stay friends with Iris, and stay popular at school, she must follow Iris' lead. But when Iris and her family begin to say nasty things about Rose and Della's dad, questioning his loyalty in the war, Annie has a big decision to make. Does she stay true to herself, her beliefs, and her old friends? And how far does a true friend go?
This is a story that's not only faithful to the time period (1918/WWI-era), but also illustrates a few timeless truths. Children can be incredibly cruel, and not just to other children. Prejudice is so easily fueled by misinformation. Figuring out who you are, and who you are supposed to be, and making those two things fit together, is hard no matter who and when you are. Most importantly, real friends are a true and rare treasure.