Friends Forever (Friends Vol. 3)

Friends Forever book cover


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

Shannon has worked hard to make it to eighth grade. And with some friends to boot! But she’s still not exactly what you’d call happy. So, now what?

Plot Summary

It took a lot of work in seventh grade. But bit by bit, Shannon figured out how to find a place where she clicked (drama club). And she found some friends she could click with (in drama club). She’s not king of the world, but now that she’s in eighth grade Shannon kind of has a handle on things.

There is one little niggling problem, though. In spite of all the good happenings in her life, well, she doesn’t always feel good. And she doesn’t know exactly why.

I mean, Shannon wants to do tons of great things this year—participate in a drama showcase; do concert solo auditions; vie for literary magazine editor; become student of the month—but she isn’t quite sure that she’ll be able to do them as well as she wants. And even when one thing or another goes great, she always seems to feel some other failure that drags it all back down.

However, Shannon isn’t going to just sit still and let her not-so-good feelings, or her I’m-not-good-enough mindset, weigh her down. She’s one year away from high school, after all. And this particular almost-high schooler knows how to work things out. So after a bit of writing in her journal—the one place she’s always 100% honest—she lands on exactly what to do.

Shannon is completely sure that she will feel absolutely fulfilled if she can be:

  1. Beautiful.
  2. Famous.
  3. Successful.
  4. Liked by boys.
  5. And a good person.

That’s not such a complicated list. Especially for an eighth grader! I mean, some of her friends have accomplished one or two things on that list without even trying. 

So, for a determined girl like her, it ought to be easy peasy. Right?

Christian Beliefs

As Shannon works through the things that she wants to change in her life, she come back to a central element that does not change: “Jesus knows and loves me.” And in that light, she determines that she’ll work at “perfecting herself” by following God’s commandments and being kind to others.

Problem is, while carrying her own self-imposed weight of trying to be “perfect,” she’s often reminded of how imperfect, and sometimes, downright bad she is. And that tends to make Shannon depressed. “Could God really love me when I was always making mistakes?” she asks herself.

Other Belief Systems

During her periods of depression, Shannon sometimes leans on the wisdom of great writers. For instance, she quotes Victor Hugo who once said: “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones.” Shannon begins loving herself in small ways—writing notes to herself and trying to look at things positively.

Authority Roles

As Shannon’s emotions swing wildly and she deals with bouts of depression, her parents don’t understand her sudden changes—including the fact that she’s letting her studies slip and wants to quit playing violin. They grow impatient with her at times. But we also see both her mom and dad trying to connect with her and help her through the tough times.

Shannon has some good friends who, in some cases, stand up for her when she’s teased or bullied. But sometimes those friends can make selfish choices themselves. And in one case, they gang up on her and give her an earful about all the ways she’s not being a very likeable person.

Shannon has one solid guy friend, Andrei. But since he’s totally obsessed with a pretty “ballerina girl” in their class, he can be pretty thick-skulled about other people’s feelings.

In the end, though, all of those strained friendships are healed.

Profanity & Violence

Even though only in eighth grade, some of the boys in Shannon’s crowd find some alcohol to drink at a party. (Shannon openly balks at the smelly stuff.)

Sexual Content

Sexual attractions and flirtations bloom between boys and girls—often to Shannon’s not-flirted-with consternation. One of Shannon’s girlfriends, Jane, is pretty and has a few more curves than most of the other eighth grade girls. On occasion, she slips off to kiss and make out with boys. After one make-out session, however, Jane becomes a bit frustrated with boys always wanting to “do more” than kiss. That said, when an older boy—whom Shannon knows from her childhood—starts paying attention to Shannon, Jane steals him away with the promise of time alone with her.

Shannon and a friend jokingly go to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall, and the creepy older man playing the role says inappropriate things to the girls (nothing crude).

Discussion Topics

Shannon had a list of things that she was convinced would make her happy and fulfilled. What did you think about her list? Have you ever longed to be any of those things on that list? Which one do you think is the most important?

Friendship is definitely important. But how do you make good friends? What do you think is the most important quality of a good friend? Why? Everybody makes bad friendship choices sometimes. What can you do to patch up those wounded friendships or hurt feelings?

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Are you depressed sometimes? What can you do to find a way past those feelings? What did Shannon do? Do you have someone you can talk with when you feel down?

Take a look at Philippians 4:8, John 16:33 and Jeremiah 29:11. What do you think these verses are saying to you?


Get free discussion question for books at

Additional Comments

This latest book in author Shannon Hale’s Friends series carries protagonist Shannon’s school life up into eighth grade and her early teen years. It does an excellent job of helping young girls think through the “important” things of growing up—including what friends to turn to and what good, healthy choices to make.


You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.