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Chopstick: Friends for a Season    by Sandra Byrd order for
by Sandra Byrd
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Thirteen-year-old Paige Winsome has a life that might make many girls jealous. She has a successful father, large home, and close-knit siblings. Yet Paige has always felt second-best, compared to her athletic brother and smart sister. Although Paige plays piano, sings and composes music, nothing she does seems to garner her parents' notice or approval. Paige tends to get lost in the shuffle. She hopes that making the youth group worship team will make her family more aware of her talents, but even that doesn't work out like she'd hoped.

Kate Kennedy's father is a part-time pastor at a small church and works for the company Paige's father manages. Their family doesn't have much money, but Kate's singing talent is recognized by everyone around her. The two girls meet when Paige buys a guitar from Kate, and they start to communicate via e-mail and on the telephone. When they discover they have both entered the same singer-songwriter contest with a $400 prize, neither is sure how it will affect their friendship. Each girl has a need for the money for different reasons. Can their friendship survive when only one can win?

This is the second novel in Sandra Byrd's Friends for a Season series. Both girls are well-drawn characters with hopes, dreams and motivation to win the money. They are each talented, but Kate is a better singer and Paige is a better songwriter. The end result of the contest is imaginative and interesting - it wasn't a twist that I saw coming. I enjoyed getting to know Paige and Kate, who have a maturity and selflessness that goes beyond their thirteen years.

This is a cute, fun read that moves at a quick pace. The Washington /Idaho locales are described vividly so that readers will feel like they are actually visiting the cities. For anyone struggling to fit in with peers or family, Chopstick offers a great deal of advice and food for thought. It is definitely an inspirational novel. The contest is for writing worship music and both girls attend church and rely on God. The tone is not preachy, however, so those who enjoy a wholesome novel will warm both to the characters and the engaging plot.

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