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Being Bindy    by Alyssa Brugman order for
Being Bindy
by Alyssa Brugman
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Being Bindy is a sweet story, that nevertheless highlights how cruel young women can be to each other, as they join cliques and vie for membership in the high school in crowd. Though what happens in this story is universal, it's set in Australia - and a few words - like arvo (afternoon) - in the Aussie lingo might puzzle North American readers, though their meaning is clear in context.

Bindy (Belinda Grubb) and Janey Madden have been best friends forever. After school, they always get together at Bindy's house till Janey's mother (a property manager) returns from work. Bindy's mother left the family years before and her father runs his business from home. As the school year starts, Janey seems to be distancing herself from Bindy, always joining Hannah and her group. On their regular Wednesday night sleepover at Janey's house, Hannah shows up too, and they insist on an unwanted makeover for Bindy before heading out to meet boys at the movies. When things heat up, Bindy calls her dad.

Bindy does not like her 'New and Improved best friend' and the relationship strains at the seams. It gets even more complicated when her dad starts dating Janey's mother Liz, and Janey enlists Bindy's help in breaking them up. As her best friend behaves more and more wildly and hurtfully - resulting in many VBDs (Very Bad Days) - Bindy is supported by her brother, her dad, and two new friends at school. At the same time, her week-end relationship with her mother evolves in new and turbulent directions. Gradually she finds out more about her parents' divorce, and gets good advice from a surprising source.

It's all tied up nicely at the end, and the identity of the Milk Pig (a minor mystery in the girls' past) is revealed. Being Bindy is a well told story about growing up and beginning to grasp the complexities of adult life, about the ups and downs of friendship, the value of common history, and the importance of remaining true to oneself.

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