No child escapes youth without some form of humiliation or ostracization—the term “mean girl” exists for a reason. And while most of us can probably share plenty of nasty stories that knock us to our knees and bring us back to our most insecure childhood moments, my most transformative “mean girl” incident as a child was not pointed at me but pointed at a friend.
I was a sophomore in high school and I was in the Quad talking to a girl I grew up with—someone I made mud pies with and caught salamanders with ten years earlier. But as we grew older she and I parted ways. She struggled in school and she struggled in life. I hadn’t seen her in ages and I was thrilled to talk once again. But she was an “outsider” in the eyes of our peers. After our conversation, one of the “popular” girls and a friend of mine, approached me immediately and asked, “Oh my gosh, why are you talking to her?”
My life changed in that moment. I made a conscious decision that I would never allow another’s (unsavory, in my view) values and beliefs impinge on my own. I learned an important lesson that day about humanity and about so-called friends.
My friend Maggie is about friendships—true friendships that know no differences in intellect, skin color, physical size, or affluence. It’s also about what happens when we let the pressures of the world and others sway us from our core, from what matters most to us.
Aside from bright, beautiful acrylic illustrations, Harrison tells the story that every young girl will face at some point about belonging, about popularity, and about choosing sides over choosing one’s values and friends.
My Friend Maggie is an exceptionally sweet and relevant story. It’s a story for every young girl, and every big one to remember always.