Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ARC Review: Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting! (And Lives to Tell About It)

Title: Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting! (And Lives to Tell About It.)
Author: Tommy Greenwald
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Source: ARC from Macmillan
Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
When a text goes wrong, Katie Friedman learns the hard way that sometimes you need to disconnect to connect.

Here are a few things you need to know about Katie Friedman:
  1.  Katie is swearing off phones for life! (No, seriously. She just sent the wrong text to the wrong person!)
  2.  She wants to break up with her boyfriend. (Until, that is, he surprises her with front row tickets to her favorite band, Plain Jane. Now what!?) 
  3.  She wants to be a rock star (It’s true. She has a band and everything.)
  4. Her best friend is Charlie Joe Jackson. (Yeah, you know the guy.)
  5. And most importantly, Katie’s been offered the deal of a lifetime—get ten of her friends to give up their phones for one week and everyone can have backstage passes to Plain Jane. (A whole week!? Is that even possible?)

My Review

Before I really begin my review, I should state that this book is technically a part of the Charlie Joe Jackson series, but it is technically a spin-off novel. There is even a little introduction at the beginning of the book for readers (like me) who have never read the other books in this series, but it also serves as a refresher for readers who have read other books in the series. 

I'm probably one of the very last people on Earth who still hasn't upgraded to a smartphone. Because of this, I had a hard time imagining how hard it would be to give up my phone for a week because I really don't use it. Then I started thinking about my other devices - laptop, iPod, and Kindle Fire - I use to do many of the things that people use smartphones for. Yeah... it would probably be hard.

Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting is a well-thought-out and delightfully wonderful middle grade novel that explores the problems kids (and probably adults) face when our eyes are constantly glued to a screen. I admired Tommy Greenwald's decision to write this book because it needed to be written. It's no lie that kids spend way too much time connected with each other through phones instead of in real life. Sometimes people just need to unplug to connect, and Greenwald's story of Katie and her friends (both new and old) is a great example for preteens and younger teenagers.

Greenwald's writing style is simple and perfect for middle grade readers. The chapters in the book vary in length, but most of them are short in length. It is a pretty quick read (at least for me), so I could see kids in the tween crowd reading this in a few days. In the beginning of the book, Greenwald seamlessly includes text messages as part of the dialogue, and I'm sure that would draw in the phone savvy generation of readers that we now have. I also liked the illustrations included in the book. They were cute, but they didn't really take away from the reading experience. 

Some events and details in this book are completely unbelievable, but they are cute and quirky enough to entertain the tween crowd. Some events are just inspirational, and kids reading this book would be impressed. I found myself smiling, laughing, and even frowning at times because of how marvelously Greenwald shows Katie's emotions.

I did have a few problems with this book. Aside from a few completely unrealistic things going on, I found myself confused at times. The goal in the book is for Katie and ten friends to give up their phones for a week. It just seems like too many characters all at once. I had a hard time remembering who was who, and I found myself frustrated because of this. It's cute, but I wish that Greenwald would have taken more time to introduce readers to these characters.

Altogether, Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting is an entertaining middle grade book that also serves as a way to inconspicuously educate young kids about really connecting with their friends and peers. It's enjoyable enough to read in one sitting, and I'm sure that kids will be talking about it and their cell phones after reading it. I'd recommend this book for kids between eleven and fourteen because most kids get their first cell phone in those years but it also teaches the preteen crowd that it's still okay to leave your phone and just be a kid.

About Tommy Greenwald

Tommy Greenwald has enjoyed reading all his life, which is why he's appalled that his kids Charlie, Joe and Jack, would prefer getting a dental check-up to checking out a book. After years of pleading, threatening, and bribing, Tommy finally decided the only way to get his kids to read was to write a book about how to get out of reading. This is the result. And they read it! (So they say.) The Executive Creative Director at SPOTCO, an entertainment advertising agency in New York City, Tommy lives in Connecticut with his wife, Cathy; his non-reading sons, Charlie, Joe and Jack; and his dogs, Moose and Coco.


  1. Looks like an entertaining read. I still love to read books for younger readers because it makes me so relaxed and takes me back to my childhood years :) Maybe I'll give it a go :)
    @Vanilla Reads

    1. It was really entertaining! I thought it was cute, and definitely something like kids will flock to.

  2. I'm so glad you reviewed this one! I spotted it on Goodreads last week but didn't add it to my TBR and then I forgot about it. It sounds like it's worth reading for a middle grade reader like me.

    No smartphone here either. I actually don't have a cellphone at all.

    1. Thank you, Jenna! I somehow managed to snag it through a Twitter giveaway, and I'm so glad that I entered because it's cute and definitely a book that will make kids think.

      No cell phone at all? I need mine for work, but it came in handy last night when I had a tough time in the snow with my car.


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