When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

Paul Griffin’s newest middle grade novel, When Friendship Followed Me Home, is a beautiful book. By turns funny, sad, sweet, and thoughtful, it surprised me over and over. The story follows former foster child Ben Coffin, a Coney Island kid who’s used to getting picked on and who prefers hanging out with characters in books and his imagination rather than other kids. But all that changes when he meets Flip, a scruffy, abandoned mutt. Ben also befriends Halley, a fellow reader who begs him to start writing a book with her.

When Ben agrees a whole new world of friendship, loss, and love opens up before him—and changes everything for better and worse. I’d say more about that, but if I did I’d ruin the many twists and turns of Ben’s story.

I recommend this book not just because it’s a stepping stone to tough, beautiful, necessary young adult books like The Fault in Our Stars, but also for the richness of the setting, the variety of characters, and the uniqueness of Ben’s plight.

My heart broke and mended a dozen times as I read When Friendship Followed Me Home, and its characters stay with me. There’s one thing that Ben says near the end of the book that gets me every time: “My favorite thing about Halley Lorentz will always be this: Every time she hugged you it was like she hadn’t seen you in a long, long time. I’ll never forget the way she held hands wither, cold and trembly and hard enough to make your fingers ache a little the next day…”

{Good grief, there I go, crying again at the public library while reading this book…}

In short: read When Friendship Followed Me Home. You’ll cry, laugh, and then pass it on to your friends (after giving them a fierce hug, like you haven’t seen them for a long time). Highly, highly recommended.

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