Boston Book Festival 2020 Boston Book Festival 2020

YA: Friendship and Its End

- EDT
Crowdcast 40
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Justin A. Reynolds
Early Departures

Justin A. Reynolds is the author of the much-lauded Opposite of Always, which was an Indies Introduce Selection and a School Library Journal Best Book, has been translated into seventeen languages, and is being developed for the screen with Paramount. His new novel, Early Departures, another YA contemporary with a speculative twist, is a “thoroughly satisfying novel of love, loss, and reconciliation not to be missed” (Kirkus Reviews, starred).

Buy Early Departures

Amy Spalding
We Used to Be Friends

Amy Spalding is the LA–based author of several novels for teens, including Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) and The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles), which earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. By day, she manages the digital media team for an indie film advertising agency. Her latest novel, We Used to be Friends, is a “bittersweet and potent examination of friendship, its failings, and its worth” (Booklist).

Buy We Used to Be Friends

Ashley Woodfolk
When You Were Everything

Ashley Woodfolk graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and worked in children's book publishing for ten years. She wrote her first novel, The Beauty That Remains, from a sunny Brooklyn apartment where she lives with her cute husband, her cuter dog, and the cutest baby in the world: her son Niko. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her second novel, When You Were Everything, a “well-crafted story of resilience” in a starred review. Her first series, Flyy Girls, is forthcoming.

Buy When You Were Everything

Cathryn Mercier is Simmons University’s Children's Literature Department Chair, Children's Literature Graduate Programs Director, and the Center for the Study of Children's Literature Director, as well as a children’s literature professor. Her skill at "close reading, an ability to talk about books so that others see the book at its most ambitious and complex, and a talent for collaboration" have made her a valuable member of national book award committees. She currently serves on the Subaru Prize Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences/ Young Adult Division.


There’s something to be said for romance, to be sure, but often the relationships that sustain us the most are the ones with our friends—and the heartbreak we feel at a friendship’s ending is every bit as devastating as any romantic breakup. The outcome of Amy Spalding’s We Used to Be Friends might not be a surprise—it’s right there in the title—but Spalding uses surprising narrative structure to trace the evolution of the relationship between two (former) best friends, with one girl’s story moving forward in time and the other’s backward over the course of their tumultuous senior year of high school. In When You Were Everything, Ashley Woodfolk also uses creative narrative chronology—alternating between Then and Now—to construct a story of painful endings, new beginnings, and the perspective earned by the passage of time. And in a story that incorporates fantasy and reality, Justin A. Reynolds's Early Departures finds a young man, Jamal, using a new technology to bring his former best friend temporarily back to life following an accident—to make amends and say a final goodbye. Make plans to join your friends for this bittersweet session about teen friendships, hosted by Cathryn Mercier of Simmons University.

This session will also be broadcast live on Boston Neighborhood Network Media television stations.

Ages 13+