That's What Friends Are For
Lodestar (Dutton), 1978
If you didn’t know Scott, you’d think he was a bully. He was big, with a loud voice, and he liked to argue and pound one fist into the other. But he wasn’t really like that. He hated to play football. He hated violence. And Scott and Gary were best friends.
Scott liked playing chess at lunchtime, and Gary, who was small and easily preyed upon by practical jokesters, liked the protection that the husky boy represented. But soon he was learning to appreciate other things about his friend. His way of watching people and understanding them, for instance. His passion for science. The way he wasn’t any better coordinated or more athletic than Gary.
The boys have a great summer. They visit the sights of nearby Hollywood. They explore tide pools at Lunada Bay. They share an Honors Science project, studying fruit flies. But then Scott falls ill, and Gary discovers he’s dying. Bewildered by the changes in his friend, pressured by the need to keep his terrible secret, Gary finds the friendship tearing him apart. And when the end comes for Scott, Gary must attend the funeral.
This is not a story of death but a story of life—of the life of two boys and the memorial one erects for the other. In the boy who grows up—and in the one who will never grow up—every reader will find something of himself.
“The story is beautifully written and deals with both friendship and death in a way teenagers can identify with. I wish I had had this book when I was a teenager and a close friend died.”
Children’s Book Review Service
“The convincing first-person narrative gives a sense of immediacy to this thoughtful story.”
School Library Journal
“Writing so that his story sounds as if a fourteen-year-old were expressing himself, Kidd imbues his novel with realism and feeling…. An effective story on a difficult theme.”