Book Review: Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore is a middle grade novel. Ruth Mudd-O’Flaherty has been a lone wolf at Frontenac Consolidated Middle School ever since her best friend, Charlotte, ditched her for “cooler” friends. Who needs friends when you have fantasy novels? Roaming the stacks of her town’s library is enough for Ruth. Until she finds a note in an old book and in that note is a riddle, one that Ruth can’t solve alone. With an epic quest before her, Ruth admits she needs help, the kind that usually comes from friends. Lena and Coco, two kids in her class could be an option, but allowing them in will require courage. Ruth must decide: Is solving this riddle worth opening herself up again?
Friendship Riddle is a book that surprised me. I thought this was going to be a typical coming of age story about finding yourself and the reunion of friends. While there is a great deal of Ruth discovering herself in the tough transitions of junior high, there is so much more going on here. There is her struggling with family issues, a former best friend with even bigger problems, trying new things, and discovering that the scariest things we can do are sometimes also the simplest. The new forming friendships, changing feelings and views, and connections to books are things many readers of age with Ruth (and beyond) can relate to. I found many of the situations very realistic and found myself cringing or laughing as I remembered embarrassing situations and less than stellar days of my own. I liked that Ruth knew her mind, and even though she did not often make big shows of her convictions, held true to them. This is particularly true with her notions in the boy/girl department. I thought the secondary characters, particularly Lena, Charlotte, and Coco, were also well developed and made the book that much more real for me.
Friendship Riddle is a satisfying journey through Ruth's experience in middle school. I found it to be entertaining and emotional, with many moments that are easy to relate to for middle grade reads and older. Even as an adult I found the social trials to feel very real and riddles to be enjoyable. It helps that I was very much a reader of fantasy and avoider of people- and frankly still am- so I very much relate to Ruth.