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The Offline Diaries as told by Ade and Shanice by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Title: The Offline Diaries as told by Ade and Shanice

a bright pink cover with bright colours in the corners. There are two black girls with bright clothes and sunnies at the bottom under a green, blue and white heading The Offline Diaries as told by Ade and Shanice by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené.

Author: Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia

Published: 6th July 2022

Format: Paperback

Pages: 256

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: The major new middle-grade series from the authors of Slay in Your Lane is here! A universal story of friendship, falling out and unforgettable characters that will resonate with all readers of 9 and up.
Ade is about to start at a new school. She is NOT happy with her stepdad for making them move here. Shanice has been at the school for a year already. Since her mum died, she’s been living with her dad and annoying older brother, spending most of her time outside school in her dad’s hair salon. When Ade and Shanice meet in the salon, and spot each other’s diaries, an instant friendship is formed, and they start to chat online… but offline is a whole other story!

The Offline Diaries is a fresh, funny and contemporary story of friendship, told in the captivating voices of Ade and Shanice – two utterly unforgettable Year 8 girls who will seize the hearts and imaginations of readers everywhere.

~*~

Ade has just moved to a new place with her mother, her sisters, Bisi and Funmi, and her stepfather. She’s not happy about it, and is due to start a new school. Shanice is trying to cope with her mother’s death whilst helping her father in his salon and dealing with her older brother James, who can do no wrong and gets away with everything. A chance meeting before school sees Ade and Shanice bond over sharing a love of writing in journals, rather than constantly being online. Whilst they bond over this and chat online, their offline world soon changes when Ade is pulled into the world of the most popular girls in school and starts to change. They pull her away from Shanice, who doesn’t get along with them at all. Ade thinks she’s hit the jackpot with friends, and she tries to juggle all of them but soon finds that she has to make a choice about who her real friend really is.

Books about friendship are often quieter ad maybe less recognised than books about romance across the board – at least once they hit teenage and above audiences. So whenever I get a book that centres a friendship, I am always thrilled and eager to see the different ways the friendship is represented, because I think friendship is one relationship that everyone has some kind of experience with – whether we have a small group of friends, a large group of friends, or multiple friends in different circles who fulfill different needs for us. It shows that the people who understand us the most are often those we least expect, and that we don’t need to hang out with the popular kids to be cool – a lesson we learn in school and that through this book, I think all readers will hopefully recognise in their own worlds.

I’ve also noticed lots of co-authored books in the last few years – and it is always fascinating to see how they work, especially where they have two characters with two distinct styles and voices, which suggest that maybe each author takes on one of the characters and then they bring it together in edits. I also loved seeing the diversity in this book, and seeing how Ade and Shanice experienced the world. It was wonderfully done and a great example of how to tell a relatable story and celebrate culture and difference at the same time. I loved finding out little bits about Ade and Shanice’s backgrounds and families, and think this will appeal to many readers, because there will be something that a broad audience will connect with and enjoy. For me, it was the friendship and celebration of the written word and offline life. In a time when so much of what we do is online, it is refreshing to take a break with a journal and pen, and not being beholden to an increasing online world. It shows that there are joyful things offline and that you can have a foot in both worlds. Both have their upsides and downsides, and I found the bullying aspect important. It will hopefully open up conversations and show readers the perils of cyberbullying, and what it means to be a true friend.

It’s a different way of writing – using journal entries and chats to tell the story, but the combination gets the story across effectively. Because the journal entries allow for the characters to reveal things that the text chats don’t, and we get a deeper insight into the characters. It lets us into their lives and shows that everyone has insecurities. And most importantly, I think it is good that it shows that it can take time to find your way, and it is a good book to show this to a middle grade to young adult audience.

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