Review: Second Best Friend by Non Pratt
I wasn’t planning on writing a full-length review for Second Best Friend, because it’s only 137 pages long. However, I read it in one sitting on Monday and I’ve been unable to stop thinking about it since.
I loved Non Pratt’s Unboxed – her first collaboration with Barrington Stoke – but Second Best Friend has a special spark. It’s one of the best UKYA releases I’ve read in a long time, and I couldn’t resist rereading and reviewing it before returning it to the library.
Jade and Becky are best friends, but after Jade breaks up with her boyfriend he tells her he only got with her because Becky said no, and Jade’s overcome with jealousy. Why is Becky better than her at everything? She gets higher marks in tests, doesn’t find school difficult and even gets handpicked to perform solos in orchestra. It’s not fair.
But Becky doesn’t care about Social Responsibility – one of the only classes which doesn’t award a grade – so Jade decides to use it as her time to shine. She applies to be Leader of the political party in her class, and is overjoyed to get it… Until she discovers that Becky was chosen as the rival team’s Leader, despite not even applying for the role.
It looks like it’s not going to be that easy to get one up on Becky after all.
Non Pratt squeezes a ridiculous amount of content into this book. Even though it’s short, it’s extremely rereadable (that’s why I managed to read it twice in the space of a week: that’s not something I’d be able to do if it was an average story!).
I have a few favourite aspects of Second Best Friend.
Of course, the focus on friendship is a given, but family are also a huge part of the story. Jade has some problems with her father but has a cool step-mum – not something you often encounter in YA – while the fact that Becky has two mums is slipped into the story with ease. It’s great to see a range of family dynamics, rather than the typical nuclear family setup.
It’s also an extremely realistic story. Who hasn’t felt jealous of a close friend? I know I have, but I also know that it’s important not to blame them for your own insecurities. Combine the simple drama with the easy banter between classmates and the casual use of swearing, and Second Best Friend throws you back into your secondary school days.
The only reason I didn’t give it five stars is because the ending is rather abrupt, but you’ll have to wait and see for yourself how the election plays out!
Barrington Stoke books are designed to be dyslexia-friendly and perfect for reluctant readers. I think it’s wonderful that a story like this has been released by them: although it’s easy to read it’s still compelling, and there isn’t a dull moment. I sincerely hope that Pratt works with Barrington Stoke again in the future, because teenage readers who struggle deserve to have the opportunity to read books like these.
If you’re interested in learning more about Second Best Friend, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon Affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!