What Are Friends For?

Paperback | September 25, 2014

byRachel Vail

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The fourth book in bestselling author Rachel Vail's beloved Friendship Ring series!

4 rings, 1 promise: Best Friends Forever

Olivia is the 'brain' of the group and she's not afraid to speak her mind. So when the rest of her friends gush over guys and clothes, she can't see what the big deal is. That sort of thing has never been important to her. Until she starts to have strange feelings for a boy in her class, made worse by the fact that her friend Morgan thinks he's a total dork. Now, Olivia finds herself keeping her feelings inside, when she knows she should just be honest with her friends.

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From the Publisher

The fourth book in bestselling author Rachel Vail's beloved Friendship Ring series!4 rings, 1 promise: Best Friends ForeverOlivia is the 'brain' of the group and she's not afraid to speak her mind. So when the rest of her friends gush over guys and clothes, she can't see what the big deal is. That sort of thing has never been important...

Rachel Vail is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books for kids and teens, including Lucky, Gorgeous, and Brilliant (the Avery sisters trilogy), Wonder, Daring to be Abigail, and the upcoming Unfriended. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.www.rachelvail.comTwitter: @rachelvailbooks.comFacebook: Rachel Va...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 7.75 × 5.1 × 0.5 inPublished:September 25, 2014Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0147511216

ISBN - 13:9780147511218


Extra Content

Read from the Book

But I definitely felt something.If You Only KnewPlease, Please, PleaseNot That I CareWhat Are Friends For?oneSome growth spurt. My mother says an inch, but I know she was tilting the book. I know it was only half an inch, maybe three quarters. She wants to reassure me, but the only time I ever think about how short I am is when everybody keeps consoling me that height doesn’t matter and that anyway I’ll have my growth spurt soon, when my adolescence starts.I’m not worried about the fact that I still care about current events and my schoolwork either. I know most other seventh-grade girls have only two interests: popularity and boys. That stuff bores me, honestly; when those conversations come up—Do you think he likes me? Are you mad at me?—I go over my times tables in my head and wait for a more interesting topic. I know that makes me seem behind the other girls in my grade, less mature, less normal. I can’t help it. It’s not that I’m antisocial; I’m actually very friendly. It’s just that I can’t help noticing that the seventh-grade girls who used to be reasonably intelligent people have recently become idiotic, single-minded bimbos, one after another, as the hormones hit. People like CJ Hurley, a gifted ballerina and a sensitive friend, lose all perspective and every interest when some dirty-fingernailed but popular boy calls her up on the phone.I wonder when it will happen to me.twoThis morning when I got to school, I had only a few paragraphs to go in the chapter I was reading, so I stumbled up onto the curb with the book still in front of my face. When I finished the chapter, closed my book, and looked up, Morgan Miller was staring right at me. I looked behind me to be sure it wasn’t somebody else, but no, it was me.I don’t waste my time keeping up to the minute on who is in and out, but everybody in our grade knows that Morgan is always at the center of things. She tends to be very angry at somebody at least once a week and to have intense opinions about what is and isn’t acceptable—clothes, behavior, all the details of life. I care a lot about moral issues like free speech and homeless people, but not so much about what an acquaintance wears. Morgan scares me a little.So when she stared at me like that, I said something like, “You coming into school?” We’ve always been friendly, though distantly, and she looked particularly fierce right then. I don’t care who likes me or doesn’t, but it’s not good to be the one Morgan is angry at.She sprinted over to me, latched onto my arm, and dragged me by the elbow into school, whispering, “Some people think they are so great.” She stormed off to her own homeroom when I asked her who.In homeroom, permission slips for next week’s seventh-grade apple-picking trip were handed out. Zoe Grandon, who sits next to me, opened her big blue eyes wide and smiled at me. I guess she was excited about the trip, which I was dreading because last year, as everybody in Boggs Middle School knows, two seventh-grade couples got caught kissing behind a haystack on the apple-picking trip. For weeks after they came back all the boys in the whole school were talking about it, pretending to cough, but really saying “hay-stacking” and meaning kissing. It’s what made me dislike boys last year, all that talk of hay-stacking, hay-stacking, like all they thought girls were good for, all of us who’ve been their buddies and first basemen and lab partners, all they thought of when they saw us was hay-stacking. My brother, Dex, told me I needed to relax. He thought it was funny four of his friends got suspended. I thought the whole thing was insulting and annoying. But that’s just my opinion.All through the announcements, Zoe fiddled with a silver ring on her finger. When the bell rang and Zoe and I were walking out of the room, I complimented her on the ring.“Thanks,” she said with a huge smile. “I got it this weekend.” She held her hand out for me to get a better look.“Pretty,” I said. “I like the knot.”Zoe nodded. “It’s a friendship ring. CJ has the same one.”“Oh,” I said. “That’s nice.” CJ Hurley’s mother and mine are very tight; we go on family vacations together, but CJ and I aren’t especially close. She is nervous and timid, and not too interested in anything but ballet, which is her life. She’s very talented. Ballet and, lately, boys. And always Morgan. As far as I knew, CJ’s best friend was Morgan, not Zoe.Zoe was adjusting the ring on her finger as we got to the door of her French classroom. I decided it was none of my business who got friendship rings with whom. Zoe asked me, “Did you have fun putting together the project for English class over the weekend?”“Fun?”“It was harder than it seemed, I thought.”“I agree,” I said. The assignment was to fill a brown paper bag with ten objects that, taken together, would give a complete picture of who you are. I’d worked all weekend on it and felt pretty confident about the ten things I’d chosen. “I can’t wait to present it,” I told Zoe.CJ approached us, rubbing her right hip. I asked her if it was hurting.She shook her head very quickly and said, “Um, a little. But, I mean, no.”“That’s good,” I told her as encouragingly as I could. She always seems to be in the midst of an anxiety attack.“Thanks,” she said, clasping her hands tightly behind her back. Tommy Levit walked past us. He’s the boy CJ had decided she liked last week. CJ covered her face with her hands. I resisted groaning.CJ lifted her face and announced, “Tommy asked me out.”“Oh,” I said. “When?”“Friday,” CJ said.“Congratulations.” I had no more to say about that subject. I don’t know what everybody sees in Tommy Levit. He’s a twin with Jonas Levit, which is inherently interesting, I guess. And he is nice-looking in a generic American way, with dimples and a sarcastic look on his face, but I really don’t see why so many of the girls in our grade act stupid around him, especially after last year, when Morgan went out with him and he kissed her so hard and so unexpectedly that she dumped him and hasn’t really spoken to him much since. He’s the kind of boy who likes to tease—and CJ is someone who can’t easily withstand teasing. But since it wasn’t my business, I didn’t say a thing. I opened a folder holder and put away my permission slip.I noticed CJ watching me and realized she wouldn’t be able to go, because of dance. No wonder she seemed even more tense than usual. “So you can’t go on the trip, huh?” I asked her.“What?” Zoe asked. “Why?”Morgan, who was passing us on her way to Spanish, said, “Dance.”“Hey, wait up,” CJ called to her, and chased her down the hall. She is often chasing after Morgan, apologizing or complimenting. Now Zoe chased after CJ, asking, “What is Olivia talking about, you can’t go apple picking?”CJ shook her head, trying still to catch up to Morgan. I slowed down. I hate how desperate my friends seem lately, how nervous.“Why can’t you go?” Zoe wasn’t getting much response from CJ, so she turned and asked me, “Why can’t CJ go apple picking?”“We don’t get back until six-thirty,” I explained, since I had caught up.“Yeah? So?”“So,” said Morgan, stopping outside Spanish. CJ almost bumped into her. “CJ has dance at four on Mondays. Not that she even likes ballet anymore, but . . .”That surprised me. “You don’t?” I asked CJ.“It’s complicated,” CJ answered, nervously fingering her hair. She is so pale, you can see the veins on the side of her forehead.“You like it or you don’t,” Morgan told her, with disgust in her voice. “How complicated is that?”“You can’t miss one day?” Zoe asked CJ.CJ shook her head. “Something could happen, some casting director could come to watch. You can’t. And especially, my mother?”Morgan blew her long, dark bangs out of her eyes. “CJ’s mother says, ‘It’s important to devote yourself to something so you’ll stand out from the crowd.’” She mimicked CJ’s mother perfectly. I’ve heard her mother say those exact words, in fact.“Really?” Zoe asked. “She says that?”“All the time,” Morgan answered. “Makes me feel great.”“She doesn’t mean anything against you,” CJ apologized. In fact, CJ’s mother thinks Morgan is a bad influence on CJ, coming from a messed-up family with an immature father who ran off to California with a young floozy and a nasty angry mother with no manners. CJ’s mother and mine talk every day. They both wish CJ would be best friends with me instead. CJ’s hands fluttered up to her hair again. “She just, it’s true that . . . I really wanted to go apple picking.”Zoe’s smile tightened. “Or at least hay-stacking.”“Yuck,” I said. It slipped out.“I like apples,” CJ protested in her whispery voice.“Yeah, apples.” Zoe turned the ring around on her finger. “An apple a day.” The bell rang. Zoe gasped. She’s the only one of us who takes French instead of Spanish. She ran back down the hall toward her class.Morgan grabbed my elbow again and asked, “Don’t you think it’s pathetic when all some girls obsess about is boys, boys, boys?”I glanced at CJ, who turned away. I didn’t want to insult her, but the truth is, I do think boy-craziness is pathetic and gross. I nodded at Morgan. She yanked me into Spanish class with her.After Spanish, Morgan pulled my arm down the corridor. The rest of me followed. Morgan whispered, “CJ thinks she’s above everybody else. Doesn’t she?”I asked what she meant. CJ is a family friend; we protect each other even if we don’t always enjoy each other’s company.“CJ is even more impressed with herself than usual, don’t you think?”“I hadn’t noticed,” I whispered back.Morgan nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. It is hard to tell, since she’s always Miss Prima Ballerina. You’re absolutely right.”That wasn’t exactly what I had meant. I held the cafeteria door open, and Morgan dragged me through it. She walks so fast it was a challenge for me to keep up with my elbow.“But now that Tommy Levit asked her out . . .” Morgan sighed, shaking her head. I sat down and she squeezed in beside me, at the end of the table. Morgan cupped her hand over my ear and whispered, “And did you see her ugly ring?”“The friendship ring?” I asked.“Yeah, hard to miss, the way they’re waving their hands around, huh?” Morgan kicked off her sandals and folded her foot underneath her. “Guess CJ is pretty thrilled with herself, getting to be best friends with Zoe the Grand One.”That was witty of Morgan to come up with, I thought; nobody had ever called Zoe Grandon the Grand One before. I opened my 7UP and repeated, “Zoe the Grand One.”“Yeah.” Morgan took one of my pretzel sticks, waved it around in a small circle beside her head, and whispered, “Hooray for them and screw us.”I laughed and the 7UP I’d just sipped went right up my nose. “Ouch,” I said, which made Morgan laugh so much she had tears in her eyes. I offered her more pretzels. She was sitting so close to me I could feel the warmth from her arm on mine. I usually like more personal space than that, so I finished up lunch quickly and suggested we go outside for the rest of the period.She said, “Absolutely”That’s another thing about Morgan—she’s very emphatic. When the bell rang, she got hold of my elbow again, and we walked that way to our lockers and then to English/social studies. People watched us pass.threeI felt something.It’s hard to tell if it was what you’re supposed to feel, because of course I’ve never felt anything before, anything like it. I’ve had strep throat about twenty times, so as soon as it starts to come, even before the throat culture can be positive, I know if I have it or if it’s just swollen glands; on the other hand, when I got chicken pox last year, I had no idea what was happening to me. I thought maybe it was adolescence or the flu, until I got itchy. So, since I’ve never had a crush before, there is no way of telling if that’s what just happened to me. Maybe it’s a virus, for all I know. Or mumps. Although I think I got inoculated against that.But I definitely felt something.Lou Hochstetter was giving his oral report to the class, and I was trying to pay attention even though I already know about as much as I care to know about World War Two armaments from Lou Hochstetter’s last fifteen oral reports on the subject. I’ve been in Lou’s class since kindergarten; I could probably do a report on World War Two weapons myself, with very little time in the library.