COLBY: I think Scooter is awesome. He totally understands Nick not being the best friend, and he doesn’t hold it against him at all. In fact, up until the end he is looking out for Nick.I think that sometimes we expect kids to be wonderful at friendship early in life, and that probably isn’t fair. I think about all the things going in Nick’s life: a dying friend, his seizures, a bit of a loser dad, and delayed puberty (you don’t get that in middle grade). Being a good fried to someone like Scooter probably wouldn’t be the easiest thing for 15 year old Colby if I were in Nick’s shoes.
JEN: It’s interesting that you talk about how Nick isn’t expected to be mature but Scooter totally has to be super mature and accept that Nick is feeble in his friendship to Scooter. I think that’s kind of a double standard…but then I think about my student who has pretty severe medical issues and she is super mature from being around her parents and doctors and nurses for a good deal of her life. She’s much more mature than kids her age in certain ways. I think we are all learning about being friends and about being in relationships constantly. There are so many variables even when you think you are being the best friend you can be. Relationships are interesting. I think it’s hardest to make new friends and hang on to old friends. In Girl Scouts we used to sing the song about how a circle is round and that’s how long I want to be your friend. And then about making new friends but keeping old friends, too. It’s not always easy to make new friends without leaving old friends behind or making them feel bad that you are inviting new friends.
I totally love making new friends. I love meeting new people and developing friendships. I get excited and it’s almost a thrill for me to find someone new that I get along with. At the same time, I love my friends that I have. There are some great friends who I have known forever and who I know will always be there to support me no matter what. I am so glad I have all kinds of friends in my life.
I think Scooter and Nick are the kind of friends that have been friends for so long they just get each other. They like Star Wars and can joke about it and jump into a routine easily. I’m glad Nick gets the chance to hang out with Scooter more before he dies. How emotional were you when his lightsaber was in the casket with Scooter? That choked me up. I think I realized how much Nick really meant to Scooter. As much as we think of Scooter as being so mature and as if he doesn’t need Nick as a friend, he really did need him. Nick being there for him really did make a difference. I’m glad Nick wasn’t too late to realize it.
Colby: I love that Scooter totally understands why Nick is the friend that he is. Sometimes as a reader I get all frustrated with character flaws. I think about what a jerk the character is and how they should be this way or that way. When reading about Nick and Scooter’s relationship I tried really hard to look at it from Nick’s point of view. At 30, I think Nick is being shallow, but Colby at 15 wouldn’t have been as good of a friend that Nick is at 15. Gae didn’t write this book for me (I don’t think), so when I think about all the 15 year old kids out there reading this book, I get excited. Excited that they will have to go and look in the mirror after reading about Nick and think about the type of friend that they are.
JEN: John Green taught me a fancy word for character flaw, it’s awesome: hamartia. Isn’t that a great word? I love it. As much as characters make you mad in a book, everyone has some kind of character flaw. There’s no way we can all be perfect all the time…and I don’t think I would want to be perfect in every aspect of my life all the time because that just wouldn’t leave much room for fun, in my opinion. But books let us see a character’s hamartia and, like you said, it lets us hold ourselves up to a character in a book and either want to be more like that character, learn from that character, or decide to try not to be like that character at all. This is what I think books are all about. Letting us read along and learn about people and relationships and life in a safe way.
COLBY: Friendship is one of the hardest relationships we deal with in our lives. Marriage is held together by our vows and our family. Family is family, they are hard to get rid of. Friends are only our friends if we choose to keep them and feed that relationship. You can lose a friend in the blink of an eye, and there might not be anything that forces you to try to work out that relationship. Family doesn’t go away that easily. I think that it is imperative that kids get a chance to see how friendship works from books. I’m glad that Gae has given kids a story about what friendship in their world can look like.
JEN: You know what comes to mind when I think about what holds friends together? Those little necklaces where a heart that says “Best Friends” or “Friends Forever” is cut in half and one person gets a half and the other person gets a half. I know I shared one of those necklaces with a best friend or two when I was growing up. You’re right, it seems like just a said or unsaid promise to always be friends forever no matter what…and sometimes those promises are kept but sometimes they aren’t.