Ruby and Olivia, by Rachel Hawkins
While the core of the story is about Ruby and Olivia’s journey from acquaintances to friends, each girl is also contending with her own stuff—Ruby with her grief about her grandmother’s recent death, and Olivia with her sister’s recent need to claim her own identity outside of twindom—as well as being thrown into a weird situation with a bunch of other kids that they don’t know. All of the various threads and interactions—including the complicated group dynamics of Camp Chrysalis, which include an adult counselor, two teen helpers, and all of our pre-teen ne’er-do-wells—read as organic, emotionally honest, and true to the characters and personalities.
And I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear—given that it’s a Rachel Hawkins book, I mean—that it’s FUNNY:
Mrs. Freely’s neck was turning the same color as her shirt, but her smile stayed in place, even if it seemed more like she was baring her teeth at us than smiling. “Lee is going to set up the fans, Leigh will check the rooms real quick—”
“I should probably check the rooms,” Lee offered,” and Leigh can set up the fans.”
“That’s sexist,” I offered, both because it kind of was and also to see if I could actually make Mrs. Freely’s head explode.