Lou and I were out feeding the strays. All the tabbies and flabbies and scrawnies and toms that came by his house in the late afternoon. We were sitting side by side on his front step, watching their little pink tongues lap at the saucers of milk we’d laid out among the mountains of junk on his lawn, listening to their chorus of contented purrs. ‘Can you hear that, Maude? I think it’s an augmented fourth.’
‘Does that mean it sounds like a jazz chord?’
‘For jazz it would be an augmented eleventh.’
Talking to Lou could be like that. He was a musician. Musicians never make any sense when they talk about music. Most times, though, I’d know what Lou was thinking almost before he did; and augmented, diminished, demented or cemented, that flock of lost cats made me smile.
Maude and Lou have been friends forever. They live in the same street and until recently, went to the same school. Now Maude is going to a posh school and has to catch the bus every day. She and Lou might be different, but they are best mates. Well, they were, until Lou asks Maude to the movies and suddenly it’s like the goalposts have been moved. Where Maude was always able to completely relax and be herself around Lou, suddenly she’s over-thinking every word, every sentence, every move. Lou can’t work out what she’s on about and suddenly it’s as if they have no more common language. Then the girls at school, the magnets, suddenly want to be friends. Maude is in, then she’s out, she’s all over the place. Thank goodness for another new friend, Phoebe. Then Maude discovers Phoebe has secrets of her own. Life will never be the same.
Friendships change. That’s a given. But no one gives you the rule book on how these things will pan out. Maude, who has been accustomed to walking a very stable path, is suddenly beset by change. Even the trees at the creek are changing. Cut down. Replaced. And that’s how she’s feeling, without the words to describe it. Maude is lucky though, she has friends both old and new to help (and hinder) her move through this period of change. Through the changes, Maude begins to reassess her relationships and her ability to take some charge. Friendship, family and change are big themes here, all wrapped in a pacy, realistic read. An entertaining new offering in the Girlfriend series from Allen & Unwin. Recommended for early- to mid-secondary readers.
The Boy/friend (Girlfriend Fiction), R. M. Corbet
Allen & Unwin 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.