Middle school is a tough age. (And probably every age group after that, too…) There are physical changes happening, and expectations rise. Add in a cross-country move or something, and man, look out!
When you’re going through all of that, you really need a friend. But what makes a true friend? How would you describe a true friend in 10 words or less? And then, the hardest question. Do you show any of the qualities of a true friend yourself? Are we willing to pay the cost of friendship, and be a true friend to others?
Lorna and Sam have a lot to learn about what makes a true friend, and the real cost of friendship. Today’s trilogy “Land of Twilight” is a very good story to read with your middle schooler. There’s some really fun stuff, and some really hard topics too.
So let’s dive in to today’s Celebrate Lit Book Tour:
Please note that this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I may make a small commission. I only recommend books and resources that I’ve enjoyed personally, or believe that you would like. You can read my full disclosure here. You will also find information on Scripture translations there.
I did receive a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit, and choose to review it here. All thoughts are my own.
About the Book
Book: Journey to Twilight
Author: Charmayne Hafen
Genre: Action Adventure Christian Fantasy for intermediate grade students
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Sam and Lorna’s bike challenge becomes far more than a neighborhood race in this action-adventure fantasy for middle-schoolers.
Riding over a cairn at sunset, Lorna surfaces in Twilight, where she is given three impossible tasks to complete before her heart’s desire is granted.
Story Line: Avid fifth-grade mountain biker, Lorna Thompson, moves to Arizona after her parents’ divorce. Unpacking boxes, Lorna begins seeking a way to fit into the neighborhood crowd when a girl named Ally knocks on her front door.
Splashing in the pool at Ally’s house, Lorna learns about the Crestwood Challenge, a bike race created by a scar-faced neighborhood legend, Samuel Black. She hears herself boasting that she can take on Sam Black in his own race and win. Lorna’s words quickly come back to bite her.
Although none of the kids will root for the new girl, an ancient cairn opens to the Land of Twilight giving Lorna an opportunity to win anything her heart desires.
Illustrations are by award-winning artist, Brianna Osaseri.
Thematic: Fantasy ages 9-12; Female protagonist dealing with parents’ divorce finds confidence and friendship in conflict and opportunity; Celtic; Jamaican; Multi-racial; Action-Adventure; coming of age fantasy for pre-teens with some paranormal, mystical places and events.
Click here to get your copy!
What makes a True Friend? Let’s Journey to Twilight:
In Book One, Journey to Twilight, Lorna is hurting because of her parents’ divorce and moving to Arizona. She now has to try to make friends in a new place, adjust to a new normal, and all that comes with beginning 6th Grade. Her “accidental” journey to Twilight gives her both hope and frustration.
Lorna and Sam have a lot to learn about both what makes a true friend, and the real cost of friendship.
Lorna learns to look beyond her own hurt, to think of others as more important than herself. She discovers a little of the cost of friendship in the process of learning what makes a true friend.
Sam learns to let someone in, and accept friendship when he’s hurting and lonely.
*There are Christian principles in this book, though no outright verses, prayers, or conversations. Putting others first, caring about others, etc.
*The “Journey to Twilight” and what happens there isn’t expressly magic or miracle, but it is not explainable. Some may have a problem with that.
*Read this WITH your middle schooler, or at least close together. You’ll be able to have some amazing conversations!
*I would suggest any parents contemplating divorce for any reason short of infidelity read the series, and think about their children.
The Cost of Friendship: Let’s Return to Twilight:
In Book Two, Return to Twilight, things get more serious. It’s 7th Grade now. Lorna’s issues with her absent father wreak havoc on her life. Here we delve into peer pressure and have a host of springboards to talk about exactly what makes a true friend, vs a false friend / bad influence.
Sam steps up in this story. His gratitude for Lorna’s actions in the first book makes him willing to at least try to help her. Reluctantly, he pushes through some major (internally voiced) peer pressure and tries to be there for his one-time friend. He recognizes what makes a true friend and acts on it.
The beauty of this is that while he’s doing things that are designed to bless Lorna, he receives a few blessings of his own.
There’s a bit more about faith and prayer in this book than book 1, but still pretty vague. Though again, there’s plenty of spiritual truth in action, even if the characters themselves don’t realize it.
Again, I would suggest reading WITH your middle schooler, and discussing what happens as you go.
- 100 Best Middle-Grade Books
- Top 10 Christian Allegories and Adventures
- Biblical Fiction for Tweens: Naamans Servant
So What Makes a True Friend?
So, When you get right down to it, what makes a True Friend? Is there a certain list of criteria to measure what makes a true friend?
Yes. As the saying goes, there can be friends for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
Now, some friends for a reason can also be there for a lifetime, but not always. I have had some wonderful people in my life that I would say describe a true friend, but they were only part of my life for a season. Then there are a few that could easily have been “seasonal” but we’ve been able to maintain a solid bond for 22 years, through our teens, singleness, marriage, and motherhood. Long-distance even!
Those who are friends ‘for a reason’ have something very specific to share. Either a similar story of pain-with the ability to offer hope, or are otherwise able to fill a specific purpose in your life (or you in theirs!!!).
- Here are some awesome Bookish games to play as a family!
Here are some top characteristics of a True Friend:
What makes a True friend? And, in your circle of friends, do you qualify? How about your kids? As parents, we have to be wise in our own friendships, and alert to our children’s friendships. Helping them make wise choices in both obvious and subtle ways. Here are a few characteristics of a true friend to pay attention to:
7 Qualities of a True Friend
- Honest: Someone you can be honest with, and you can rely on to be honest with you. (Ephesians 4:15)
- Trustworthy: Keeping things confidential that should be confidential.
- Authentic: Who they are is who they are. You can depend on them. What makes a true friend stand out is their consistency. They aren’t a chameleon, appearing one way with one group and completely different with another group.
- Respectful: Treats people (and things) as valuable.
- Encouraging: When you’re feeling down, or unable to finish, what makes a true friend stand out is the ability to encourage you and cheer you on.
- Loyalty: A Good friend knows your weaknesses, and sticks by you anyways. They can be depended on during a crisis at 2 a.m., as much as you can count on them to enjoy your favorite activities on a bright and sunny day.
- Most importantly, together, your conversation always comes back to Jesus. Either pointing out what He has done, or has promised, or how He is moving in your world.
Risk. The Cost of Friendship
On the other side of the coin, what makes a true friend is knowing the cost of friendship, and maintaining your friendship anyways. As in today’s book series, Land of Twilight, there is a cost of friendship.
If we want to have (and BE) a true friend, we have to risk being vulnerable. Open ourselves up to someone. Let them in. And that can be a dangerous risk if we’re not careful.
One of those characteristics of a true friend was Honesty. Sometimes we don’t like honesty. It can be painful. But a True friend will risk it if they see you headed in the wrong direction.
Another of the qualities of a true friend is Respect. Sam (Return to Twilight) learned to treat someone with respect, that he never would have dreamed of befriending. This kid was different from him, and definitely not one of the “Cool” kids.
He risked being mocked by his peers (and that voice in his head that we all too often cave in to!). But because of his loyalty to Lorna and the need to encourage her, he reached out to befriend Thomas. And Everyone benefitted. The cost of friendship was real, but he pushed through anyway.
So How Would You Describe a True Friend?
Okay. That said, how would you describe a true friend? Do you have any? Are You one? And are you helping your kids what makes a true friend?
I have a few True friends, a couple of ladies in my own age bracket and a couple that are 2 generations older. As much as I benefit from both, I need to be aware of and in search of some younger than me that I can be a true friend to.
And I need to teach my sons as they grow. Because of the cost of friendship, when you recognize in someone those qualities, what make a true friend, is absolutely worth it.
Sounds like a great book to help young girls navigate the corridors of youth! Great review as well.
It really explores some deep topics, hurts and truths, but on a middle-grade level. What makes a true friend? How do you (not) handle your problems? Etc.
I think I would have liked this series when I was a middle-schooler. Learning about friendship at any age is a good idea. It’s important first to be a true friend before you can make those lifelong true friendships. Great review, Aryn.
Thanks Wendy. Yes, i agree, you have to know what makes a true friend and put it into action if you want to have a good friend!