5 Questions with Author Jessica Speer About Her Middle-Grade Debut – BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships
Thank you so much for having me, Kathie, and for your unwavering support of debut authors! It’s such an honor to be part of Fast Forward Friday.
- What was the inspiration for BFF or NRF?
When my two daughters entered the preteen years, friendship struggles started to emerge. This reminded me of my experience as well as the stories of so many others. So I got curious.
I’ve got a background in social sciences and have always been fascinated with human relationships. I dove into books and research on the subject. I also started a friendship program for elementary school girls. This program and the stories of girls shaped this book from start to finish.
- Why are friendship and social struggles common in the preteen years, especially for girls?
When we explore everything going during this phase of life, it’s not surprising that social struggles happen. Girls’ confidence drops between the ages of 8-14. Some studies find that confidence dips as much as 30% in girls, leading to self-doubt, social anxiety, and risk avoidance.
At the same time, preteens are becoming more reliant on peers. Friendships begin to replace family as tweens’ primary source of identity and support. Preteens also start exploring their own identity. Who their friends are, what they wear, what activities they do.
All of this happens alongside the physiological changes of adolescence. So yeah, social changes and struggles are common in the preteen years! In my friendship programs, the notion that change and struggle are normal was a huge relief to girls. This is emphasized in the book too.
- The pandemic and social isolation added even more change to our social lives. Did this impact your writing or your book?
Yes, for sure. My book was initially scheduled for release in 2020. It was delayed due to the pandemic, which allowed me to edit it one more time. I’m grateful for these final edits because I was able to add additional content that I hope will support girls as they reenter their in-person social worlds.
Many girls are feeling isolated and unsure of where their friendships stand. I hope that BFF or NRF serves as a supportive guide as girls rebuild relationships.
- BFF or NRF has interactive components, like quizzes and fill-in-the-blanks. Why is that important?
It can be tough to navigate social issues the moment they happen. The book’s interactive nature gives readers a chance to reflect when they are not right in the moment. The activities help girls learn more about themselves as well as others. Something magic happens when we put words on paper or on screen. Quizzes and activities give girls a chance to think about who they are, how they want to behave, and how they might respond in challenging situations.
5. Can you tell us where to find out more about you and your writing, please?
Absolutely! For updates, you can find me on @jessica_speer_author on Instagram and @speerauthor on Twitter. For book-related news and articles on social-emotional topics, you can visit my website, www.JessicaSpeer.com.
Thank you so much, Kathie! I’m honored to be a part of MG Book Village and the Fast Forward Friday series. Your support for the book means the world!
Jessica Speer’s book, BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships grew out of her friendship program that strengthens social awareness and helps kids learn to navigate common struggles. She has a master’s degree in social sciences and explores social-emotional topics in ways that connect with pre-teens and teens.