Book Review: Friends Forever by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham


Friends Forever by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham– As always, LeUyen Pham’s illustrations are excellent as she provides a distinctive touch to the page, giving Hale’s work its fullest expression. Despite being the third novel in a series, “Friends Forever” can be read independently. This novel is artfully written with a lot of heart about middle school, uncertainties, and coping with an undiscovered illness.

Once more, the narration of Hale and the artwork of Pham cuts to the heart of adolescent grief and happiness. Shannon’s quest toward self-actualization is skillfully presented through magazine cover graphics with ambitious yet anxiety-inducing headlines, which juxtapose her often harsh realities with her idealized daydreams. Like its predecessors, it provides an achingly real account of growing up with mental health issues.

“Friends Forever by Shannon Hale,” which was artfully written, discusses how challenging middle school can be. Being a sensitive child, Shannon frequently receives unfair treatment from others around her, even adults. Her parents genuinely care about her, but they don’t always comprehend some of her plans, like wanting to contact a casting agent, go horribly wrong. It also has a lot to say about self-actualization and body image.

Sounds amazing already right. But don’t leave just yet, as the real fun isn’t just this! Keep on reading to know more.

Friends Forever by Shannon Hale | Book Review

Friends Forever By Shannon Hale And LeUyen Pham cover image

About The Author and Illustrator

Shannon Hale (Author)

Shannon Hale was born in Salt Lake City on 26th January, 1974. She is one of five middle kids and has a younger brother, a younger sister, and two elder sisters. When she was younger, she loved to write, read, and perform—she frequently wrote plays that she would act out with friends.

Hale started writing The Goose Girl while she was enrolled in her graduate writing program, and she continued to work on revisions of the story while taking her lunch break from her job as an instructional designer. Before creating young adult and children’s novels, she had first intended to work in literary fiction, publishing short stories and instructing English.

Hale participated in improv and stage comedy before choosing writing as a full-time career. She also studied abroad in Mexico and the U.K. and worked as an instructional designer. Hale is not only a writer but also a proponent of gender equality. Despite receiving excellent reviews from both sexes, she has observed that her novels are only promoted to females. She has written several essays on this topic.

Hale co-wrote the Eisner-nominated comic novels Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack, The Princess in Black, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)

Shannon Hale and LeUYEN Pham Image
Shannon Hale and LeUYEN Pham

Pham was born on September 7th, 1973, in Saigon, Vietnam. Pham graduated with a B.A. from the Art Center College of Design in 1996 after spending 1991 to 1993 as a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. She worked as a layout artist for Dreamworks Animation from 1996 to 1999 after graduating college. She later resigned to focus only on illuminating children’s books.

Adrienne Moore Bond wrote Sugarcane House and Other Stories about Mr. Fat, Pham’s debut picture book, released in 1997. Can You Do This, Old Badger? a book with pictures by Pham and written by Eve Bunting, was released in 2000. Big Sister, Little Sister, a children’s book by Pham, served as her first published work.

Pham married the artist Alexandre Puvilland on October 29th, 2005.

Book Overview | Friends Forever by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

Full Title: Friends Forever

Author: Shannon Hale

Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publishing Date: 31st August, 2021

Page Count: 304

Series: Friends

Preceding: Real Friends (2017), Best Friends (2019)

Main Characters: Shannon, Jane, Heather

Themes: Friendship, Betrayal, Loyalty, Family

Setting: Shannon, a young woman in middle school, is followed in the graphic novel “Best Friends” as she makes and loses friends while looking for herself.


Eighth-grader Shannon’s life is more challenging than ever as things are constantly shifting. No matter how hard she tries, Shannon can never seem happy when her classmates begin dating one another, except no one wants to date her. She worries about upsetting everyone who cares about her as she battles her anxieties and undiagnosed depression. Is there a problem with her? Can she live up to everyone’s expectations of her? And what does she want to be in the end?

Book Summary | Friends Forever by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

Shannon has finally found her vibe after the trauma of the fifth grade and the fears of the sixth. She has mastered junior high, emerged from her shell, and discovered how to make friends by being a friend. The eighth grade looks fantastic! It doesn’t take long for the old phobias to return. She lacks Jane’s friend Heather’s confidence and Jane’s beauty.

She has too many dreams, none of which fit her parents’ expectations, yet she has no lovers (again, like Jane) or the standards set by her LDS faith.

After a series of setbacks, disappointments, and self-doubts, Shannon experiences a depressive episode that causes her parents to consider whether Shannon would be better suited to end the school year with her family in California.

Then, things start to improve. Along with the realization that she won’t light the world on fire, she gradually begins to appreciate and even accept her anxiety and minor OCD as personal traits. But that’s okay because she is enough as she is.

My Takeaway from the Book

Some images of book friends forever

This book teaches many lessons, making it a perfect book for young minds to read. First, it discusses some real yet less talked about problems like mental health, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, and body shaming.

This book shows how people, especially the young ones, face these issues. They start being harsh on themselves if they do not pay much attention to them, and when they finally realize (or are made to realize) what they are worth and that they’re perfect the way they are, sometimes it’s already too late.

Along with that, this graphic novel surrounds subjects like love, friendship, family, and betrayal and how to deal with heartbreaks, loneliness, peer pressure, and more small yet crucial issues faced by the young, new generation.

Ratings For The Book

This book deserves 4.4/5 stars.

Final Words

Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham have written another excellent love letter to their younger selves and readers everywhere, reminding us all that we are enough. Their writing is characterized by their trademark humor, tenderness, and intelligence. This book is a superb continuation of the first two volumes and a requirement for graphic novel collections.

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