11 BIRTHDAYS by Wendy Mass

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From birth, Amanda and Leo were destined to be best friends.  They were born on the exact same day and for ten years had always celebrated their birthdays together.  But at their tenth birthday party, Amanda overheard Leo make a nasty comment about her, and suddenly the idea of sharing another birthday party with Leo seemed repulsive.  So for her eleventh birthday, Amanda decides to plan a party on her own.  But Leo plans his party for the same day, and all of their friends are forced to choose whose party to attend.  And of course Leo’s party is much cooler than Amanda’s.  Finally, the terrible day ends and Amanda goes to bed, hoping to forget that her eleventh birthday ever happened.  Unfortunately, when she wakes up, she discovers that somehow it is her eleventh birthday again. Everyone else at home and at school seems oblivious to the repetition, acting out their day in the exact same way they did before.  The only people aware of the time loop seem to be Amanda and the one person she doesn’t want to be stuck with: Leo.  Amanda and Leo are forced to begin rebuilding their friendship as they try to figure out what is going on and how to break out of the endless loop of eleventh birthdays.

This book has some fantasy elements, in terms of the time loop (reminiscent of the film Groundhog Day), but it mostly focuses on friendship and forgiveness.  The characters and their situations are easy to relate to, though it will likely appeal to girls more than boys, as Amanda is our narrator.  I would recommend this story to middle grade readers who enjoy realistic fiction about school and friendship.

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