Friends For Life by Andrew Norriss Book Review

Friends for Life by Andrew Norriss
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Release Date: August 25, 2015
(UK Title: Jessica's Ghost)

When Jessica sits down next to Francis on a bench during recess, he is surprised to learn she is a ghost. It doesn't freak him out too much, but it is interesting since he is the first person who has been able to see her since she died. They quickly become fast friends, something that Francis isn't exactly used to consider his--eccentricities. A bit of an outcast, Francis is a boy who is into fashion, designing clothes in his attic that he puts on dolls. He thought he would be embarrassed if anyone ever saw this, but Jessica loves it. Then, on a whim, his mother insists that Francis try to befriend a new boy down the street who doesn't want to go to school. Except the new boy is a girl, Andi, and Andi and Francis have absolutely nothing in common. Except that Andi can see Jessica too. The three bond so well that Francis begins to get quite the reputation as a people fixer. Soon he is "hired out" to help another person, Roland, who never leaves his bedroom. Roland is the third person who can see Jessica. But why can they all see her when no one else can? The secret lies with Jessica and her death and the reason why she hasn't been able to move on. The reason why she returns to her hospital room every night. The reason they are all friends for life.

When this story began I expected it to be a story about friends despite differences, learning to love who you are, and overcoming bullies. And to some extent those things are all a part of this story. However, without giving too much away, once Jessica's secret is revealed this story takes a turn into something deeper, darker, and far more important. It made me uncomfortable, forcing me to question if a child should be reading this. This is always a good question in my mind, because this is the protective nature of an adult. We want to protect children from darkness, from the untidy things in life, and some kids need that protection as they aren't yet ready to deal with those things. But there are kids out there that need this book. It's fictional nature may be just the thing the Francis, Rolands, and Andis of the world need. There is a good deal of power in these pages and as truths are revealed, a great deal of revelation too.