What Can I Say?

A Kid's Guide to Super-Useful Social Skills to Help You Get Along and Express Yourself; Speak Up, Speak Out, Talk about Hard Things, and Be a Good Friend

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Pub Date 24 May 2022 | Archive Date 10 Jun 2022
Storey Publishing, Storey Publishing, LLC

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Middle school is an essential time to learn and practice social skills, including how to get along with others, talk about hard things, be an ally, and a good friend. In What Can I Say?, Catherine Newman, author of the bestseller How to Be a Person, provides supportive guidance and instruction to help kids establish or and maintain meaningful relationships and effective communication with friends, teachers, family members, and others in their communities. Talking the talk can be tricky, and every page of this super-useful book provides easy, accessible scripts and guidance on the right thing to say in all kinds of situations, from how to be inclusive, listen, give advice, argue, stick up for yourself, and ask for help to how to turn down a date, express sympathy, deal with offensive comments, respond to bullying, and be trustworthy. Humorous, graphic-style illustrations that play our familiar scenarios reenforce Newman's friendly, non-judgmental tone and her commitment to helping kids develop the skills to express themselves clearly while showing empathy, care, and generosity towards others.

Middle school is an essential time to learn and practice social skills, including how to get along with others, talk about hard things, be an ally, and a good friend. In What Can I Say?, Catherine...

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ISBN 9781635864342
PRICE $16.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 93 members

Featured Reviews

This was such a cute and charming book. Catherine Newman's writing and Debbie Fong's illustrations were clear and concise. I especially see this being a great addition to a classroom or school library.

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This book is fantastic. It covers so many different topics and explains the different ways to have various conversations with others. The book takes into account, that not everyone is comfortable communicating in the same way and offers additional support for this. We already have How to Be a Person at school. It was one of my first choices for our newly-created Wellbeing Library and I will be adding this as soon as it comes out. Both books break down some difficult social situations into manageable chunks and provide practical tips alongside engaging illustrations and great humour.

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What Can I Say? A Kid’s Guide to Super-Useful Social Skills That Will Help You Get Along and Express Yourself written by Catherine Newman & illustrated by Debbie Fong is an amazing resource!

The intended audience is middle grade to young adult readers but really any one of any age who could use a refresher in social skills should read this! Any one who has kids or teaches kids should read & share this! The range of topics discussed in this book are absolutely fantastic. From how to be a good friend, how to listen, stand up for yourself, how to respond to bullying, how to be an ally, express sympathy, understand empathy, how to date or not date, how to be inclusive, how to use pronouns, and much more!

There are illustrated examples given under each topic to help kids make the connection between what it means to be x and what that may look like in their own lives. There is also a little pop quiz at the end of each chapter on what would be the most appropriate response or action based on a given situation. It’s light, at times funny, and always non-judgemental.

I wish this book existed when I was younger. It is a useful compass for how to navigate emotions, friends, relationships, understanding others and yourself at a very confusing time in life when a child or young adult may not have the best role models equipped to practice or share these social skills with them.

These social skills are essential to learn and what a wonderful book to share with our youth today. I would recommend this for middle grade and YA readers and really for any one who has ever struggled with social skills. This would make a great classroom, library, and homeschool addition and I will be recommending this one to any one with kids and teachers. I will definitely purchase a copy for my own children as well.

Thank you to NetGalley for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Catherine Newman for making this book!

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What a perfect book for preteens and teens and honestly has great advice for all ages! Really enjoyed reading this with my son and we both learned a lot. So grateful for the opportunity to review this!

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This book is a guideline to improve social communications no matter how difficult the conversation can be. Communicating  expressively, with compassion,  and responsibly can be vital for effective conversation because it makes the world a better place.  I like how the situations are explained in a simple manner  with  pre teen/ teen - level humor for the target audience to comprehend.
I wished that I had come across this book years before, because this could have saved my embarrassing teenage moments . Although this book was targeted for preteen and  teen audience, the adults can learn a few things from this book.
This book is definitely ideal for older children and teens to help take few tips for effective conversation. Although the book is meant for older children and teens, the teachers , however can take few tips to teach their young students for communicational benefit. Overall, this is a great tool!

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This book was absolutely amazing and truly needs to be on every child’s shelf!! It is introspective and even adults can get wonderful information.

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I was first introduced to Catherine Newman's writing when I read and reviewed her May 2020 book release, How to be a Person: 65 Hugely Useful, Super-Important Skills to Learn Before You're Grown Up.

I loved that these simple yet important life skills. were covered in a simple and easy to consume manner, something that is not that easy to find these days! The first few years of parenthood really are all about survival- and then you come out on the other side and realize you are also raising a real live HUMAN who, under your supervision will need to learn how to be a competent and functional adult!

So, How to be A Person is a much needed gem of a tool, and is filled with tips and tricks while also having a perfect balance of information and humor. I read it with our then 9 year old son and we both found that the writing was accessible and relatable. So when I saw "What Can I Say?" I couldn't get my hands on it fast enough!

Just like how teaching our kids all the logistics of daily life can be trickier than we ever imagined, knowing the right things to say can be just as complex, if not more so.

In a world where we are connected in so many ways, our words can be more powerful than ever before. Shown through engaging graphics and relatable narration, Newman walks us through dozens of social situations, from navigating peer interactions to how to be an ally. Her writing is compassionate and sparked so many great discussions with our pre-teen.

Thank you to Storey Publishing for my gifted review copy.

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This book is brilliant. I bever felt this is only for kids. So many lessons were so needed for even an adult. It reminds us to be fair, vice our opinions and never be rude. There are lessons for each situation / feel and done quite well. Must read.

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Catherine Newman, the author of “ What Can I Say?” Has done a marvelous job on explaining the do’s and don’ts of the conversations. This book is definitely a savior for anyone who is in need of assistance with choosing the right things to say at the right time.

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This is an absolute must read for all ages! It gives some of the best of life advice have heard in a long time. What to do when you are when you forget someone’s name? How do you handle asking someone out? How do handle saying yes or NO to being asked out! The author even covers topics of small talk, so awkward for me, I always over talk! I know this book is geared for the middle schoolers, but I truly believe everyone can benefit from the assistance offered in this book, I know I have!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Storey Publishing and Catherine Newman for the opportunity to review the ARC of this amazing book!

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I think this book is applicable for all ages.

What Can I Say by Catherine Newman is a guide for you, kids, teens or adult, how to communicate with your friends, crush even your neighbor.

It's not only encourage us to say something nice and be empathy to other, but only encourage us to have our own boundary, respecting value and let go of some relationships

This book is written beautifully with practical example that you can use in your daily life right away.

Thank you netgalley and publisher for the arc.

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This is a fabulous guide on how to be a well adjusted, kind, thoughtful kid who can interact with grace. Newman nails it. Should be required reading for politicians, bosses, and leaders of the free world.

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I loved this book. It does such a great job going through appropriate interactions that kids in middle grades and early teens will encounter for the first time that will require more maturity to handle well. It lets them know it's OK if you don't always say the right thing, but gives some appropriate tools and phrases to use. Everything from that first crush/romance, setting boundaries, writing emails, and becoming an ally was covered. The only omission I noticed was a lack of discussion of what to do about friends with invisible disabilities (ADHD, ASD) and how to process and communicate with atypical peers. Would recommend for school and public libraries.

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I really loved this book. As a teacher who focuses on emotional literacy in primary and middle school I will definitely be buying a book to have in use in the classroom. I found the content presented beautifully and, as an adult who struggles in similar situations, I found some great advice.

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I have loved Catherine Newman’s writing for a long time and this book is no exception. Simple and clear, it’s crammed with her usual warmth and humour. Plus the illustrations are delightful.

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Look; tweenhood is tough. Anyone who says it isn't is either lying or deluding themselves. It's even tougher when you have to spend half your time trying to decipher what everyone around you means when they're talking. That's why this book will be a godsend.

Written in clear, simple language, bolstered with fun cartoons and comics, this is the guide everyone needs. I would love to see teachers reading this with their class, parents reading with their kids, kids reading with other kids...I'm an adult (apparently?) and I feel like I learned some things from this book.

As I was reading a proof, the conversion to Kindle wasn't perfect and a few things were in the wrong places, but I'm sure that'll be fixed by publication. The important thing is that all the cartoons and illustrations came through perfectly! They're fantastic, really helping to clarify while adding a light tone to the story. I really enjoyed looking through them.

This is a fantastic book, one I hope will do really well. It really deserves to.

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This was a great book and a great addition to any library. It is inclusive, full of useful information about human interactions, and has a great sense of humor. Knowing how to interact with others is a learned skill and this book gives great practical tips for kids (and grown ups).

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Can I get an amen? Man, my kids need this book. Is it just me or has the social awkwardness reached an all time high?? Catherine Newman and illustrator Debbie Fong tackle ALL the subjects kids these day need help with: how to start a conversation, how to interact with adults, how to think about complicated feelings, crushes, empathy and when to write a thank you card. The illustrations are straight forward with key notes on what to say/what not to say.

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This book is a wonderful guide for kids to give them options of what to say in specific situations. It is a helpful guide to use to teach communication skills. Everyone can improve in the area of communication. This book is very easy to follow and helpful. There are a wide range of topics included in this book. It provides examples of how to deal with difficult situations/conversations such as bullying, dating, and racism. I highly recommend this book to parents, middle school librarians, and schools. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance review copy in exchange for my honest review.

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I received an ARC for a fair review:

This title is great! I am eagerly awaiting this so I can purchase it for my library.

What Can I Say? helps kiddos navigate the awkwardness of meeting new people. dealing with offensive jokes, how to properly ask about pronouns, and more. This cute and comprehensive guide is a wonderful resource for parents to help their children learn how to speak confidently and kindly to others. I love the little quizzes and examples of conversations to help kiddos check their knowledge. It is done in a very accessible way which I really appreciate.

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I've loved Catherine Newman since she began writing about parenting her son, probably almost 20 years ago, while he was a toddler. I've followed her all thoughout the years, through my own parenting experiences, and she has long been a place of comfort for me. She knows how to say the things we are all experiencing. I've also enjoyed her advice column in Real Simple, and I was very excited when I found out she was writing a couple of kids books on manners and being good humans and good citizens. This book did not disappoint, and I immediately bought a copy for my own children.

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I can’t wait to purchase this book. I know it will be read many, many times by my students, who are navigating a tricky period in their lives as they enter puberty and move up to secondary school. I loved the bright and not overly complicated illustrations by Debbie Fong, small easy to manage blocks of text and appealing font. The fact that this book acknowledges some of life’s more awkward situations and the massive array of emotions we all feel at some point and validated them as normal is just so crucial. The book covers a wide range of themes; with a great section on relationships that features lgbtq+ examples with natural ease; but also covers looking after our community and our planet as well as how to manage social situations and feel in control of difficult emotions. Great book!

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This book was a great read. I read it with my 13 year old middle grader, and the book definitely helps pre-teens & teens on topics that can be difficult to navigate. I appreciate Story Publishing& NetGalley for the Early digital ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, in all honesty I feel blessed that I was able to add this to my arsenal of tools to help my child navigate this new and sometimes difficult era of his life, especially since they are on the autism spectrum and that makes the topics in this book even more difficult to navigate sometimes. I highly recommend this to everyone who has a child entering the preteen/teen portion of their lives and who as a parent like me is having difficulty navigating it with their child and who might not have all the answers

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The illustrations and the presentation are quite outstanding yet fun cute.

I feel this guidebook on social interaction for young readers is one of the best guidebooks I have come across. I do feel most kids feel left out and are quiet when they meet new people or people who they are not familiar with just because they do not know how to respond or start a conversation or just simply how to greet.

The illustrated guide on different common situations each kid might most possibly face are included and the tips on how to deal with them are explained well.

The book almost reads like a graphic novel. You will enjoy this one if you're reading with the kids.

One of the best young readers guidebooks I say!

Thank you, Storey Publishing, for the advance reading copy.

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Honestly, adults need this book, too.

What Can I Say is a wonderful how-to book that helps guide the reader through all sorts of conversations. Some are simple and some are really not, but all are moments that will happen at some point, and having a script to follow will help a lot of people. I know it will help me.

Ms. Newman sets up the situations and gives multiple ideas to help navigate through them. She often includes the caveat that the reader may not feel comfortable or may not feel safe and that it's okay to seek help from others, or find another way around a difficult situation. Giving people options is an excellent way to let people know that one size doesn't fit all.

My thanks to Storey Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I've heard over and over from teachers and parents that Covid-19 has really affected social skills and acerbated emotional issues. Good social skills will lead to lead connections with peers and others, thereby helping diminish these problems. The four behavior questions alone will help enormously. I like that this book gives brief examples of good social behavior and also uses humor to discuss situations that still can even make adults uncomfortable. Purchasing a copy.

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I received an advance ebook via Netgalley.

<i>What Can I Say?</i> is a full-color graphical book for middle graders, providing basic guidance on social interactions and dilemmas in a way that is progressive and fully inclusive. The attitude of the book is stated forthrightly at the beginning: "Learning how to be more kind, gracious, expressive, compassionate, responsible, respectful, and authentic in your interactions is going to make the world a better place, filled with happier people. Plus, it's going to help you yourself in a million ways." There's also no pressure to do things one right way. "Normal is not even a thing, and everyone doesn't have to be the same kind of person." As the parent of an autistic teenager, I also appreciated the brief mention that readers might be autistic or shy or have social anxiety.

The book is divided into numerous fast-to-read chapters: How to meet, greet, and part; how to have a conversation; how to get along with people; how to deal with hard things; how to be in a romantic relationship (or not); how to be supportive; how to be an ally; how to care for your community. The book is current and helpful by mentioning that some readers or their friends might identify as nonbinary or gay, and how to handle things like learning pronouns, and how to stand up for causes that are right. The illustrations throughout are such a joy, and do include kids who are gay and even doing very contemporary things like talking by video chat. Some especially awkward situations are addressed, too, like how to speak up politely if a relative is making racist jokes. These are things kids have to deal with every day and often feel so alone.

This is the kind of book that will save lives by letting kids know that they are seen, that they matter, that their voices deserve to be heard.

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I feel like every child should have a copy of this book. You see a lot of books targeted at younger children but I have never come across one like this. It is so colourful and imaginative and breaks down emotions in such an easy and understandable way. The pictures are fantastic and the little quizzes throughout are a lovely addition.

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This fantastic guide to social skills is perfectly pitched for the target audience of children aged 10+ With bright, humourous graphics and a warm, conversational tone throughout, it is an absolutely perfect 'how to' guide for a number of highly relevant topics including getting along with people, dealing with hard things, being an ally and caring for your community. The 4 step 'behaviour test' is something I can imagining displaying in a classroom to encourage self awareness among my pupils and the level of effort made throughout the book to be genuinely inclusive and supportive of every young person as they develop their social skills was really wonderful to see. I will definitely be buying a copy when it's published later this year!
Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Some readers may be disappointed by Newman's generous interpretation of social skills. Unlike more traditional self-help books that focus solely on individual growth, WHAT CAN I SAY? links this to collective well-being. I especially appreciate the emphasis on boundaries and consent, and supporting others in the way that's most helpful for them. Kudos for affirming different ways of being, not just IN the world, but OF it.

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Such a wonderful guide for being able to talk to each other in a kind manner as middle school students. I had to put this on my order list as soon as I finished it. I loved that it was written as a graphic novel format with all the visual of what the scene of the conversation would look like.

Thank you so much to @netgalley and @CatherineNewman for this advanced reader's copy for an honest review.

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I loved this book and wish it had been around when I was a shy, awkward over thinking child. With tips on what to say and when to say it this is perfect for kids who choose to say nothing incase they say the wrong thing.

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What Can I Say? by Catherine Newman was so much fun to read with my thirteen-year-old. It presents kids with valuable social skills (as the subtitle says, "to Help You Get Along and Express Yourself; Speak Up, Speak Out, Talk about Hard Things, and Be a Good Friend"). These are challenging things to master during a time of raging hormones, social changes, and increasing academic demands, even in non-pandemic times. But now, after two years of Covid, this book couldn’t have come at a better time. The icing on the cake was the humor, the gentleness, and the very teenager-approved cute, whimsical illustrations by Debbie Fong.

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As a therapist who often works with preteens, this book will make an amazing addition to my resource list and to my office bookshelf for bibliotherapy purposes. Can't wait for this to be published so I can purchase a hard copy!

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What Can I Say?: A Kid's Guide to Super-Useful Social Skills to Help You Get Along and Express Yourself; Speak Up, Speak Out, Talk about Hard Things, and Be a Good Friend by Catherine Newman is a great resource for kids and families. This book has a fun, engaging format that makes it easy for kids to pick up and read. The book actually deals with quite a few social topics. I think this book would be great for kids of many ages, with parental support and guidance. I read parts of it along with my son and I found that to be the perfect format so we could discuss the book's contents. I particularly liked the quizzes at the end of each chapter because they reinforced the concepts in a silly way. I don't think this is a book to be read through all at once. Rather, use the table of contents wisely to address issues with your child as they come up. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.

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After finishing this read, all i could think of is how different my relationship with myself and others would have taken a better turn if I was exposed to such a read as a child. A quite informative up to date guide written in a simplistic style that is accessible to readers from different age ranges. It tackles different essential topics that advocate for coexistence, tolerance and harmony between people. Definitely, a work that’s worth giving a try.

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Wow. Wow. Wow. I love this book. These are the things that often go untaught and kids are expected to just figure out all on their own. This book lays out how to engage with other people in a respectful, confident and clear way. I wish I had this book when I was young. I wish the fellow adults in my life would read this book now! Social interactions can be so difficult, especially as a young person, and this book addresses those challenges with clarity and humor. It makes interactions that can be scary and confusing approachable. I will be gifting this to the children in my life. I just loved it. So useful and thoughtful and sweet. It reminded me of the American Girl book “The Care and Keeping of Me” in format and tone. Though this is modern and inclusive and addresses different subject matter that I don’t often see covered in this way. This is a wonderful book.

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One would think that this book is essential mainly for introverts (such as myself) who freeze at the mention of intermingling with strangers or going to a party alone. But the book is aimed not just at those who are reserved but also to those who are comfortable speaking in public but want to know how to interact better.

Communication is important, everyone already knows this. But to many people, communication involves merely talking. Effective communication needs be so much more than that. Furthermore, you have the social difficulties of establishing right communication with school peers or office colleagues or neighbours or strangers. This book helps youngsters to handle all their problems regarding the right way to communicate.

The book covers a vast range of topics; from basic hellos and goodbyes to having a conversation, from simply getting along to handling difficult topics such as apologies or gossip. It even includes a section on handling a romantic relationship (with an addendum saying that the section may be skipped and read at the right time) and a section on caring for the community (though I did feel that including content on activism stretched the idea of better communication a bit too far.) To suit the need of the day, there’s also a whole section dedicated to contemporary topics such as using the right pronouns, responding to someone who is coming out, how to respond to offensive jokes, sticking up against prejudice, and so on. Every section is handled in a very practical way such that children will be able to implement the ideas easily. There is a lot of humour in the content, making it further accessible to this young age group.

There is an abundance of illustrations exemplifying every advice in the book, which makes the advice easier to visualise and follow. The illustrations are inclusive too, huge bonus points for that.

Heartily recommended to all youngsters, parents, teachers, schools and libraries.

4.25 stars from me.

My thanks to Storey Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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A powerful and helpful guide for ages 10 and up. Eight chapters take readers through different situations as they interact with others. Here’s the lineup:


What makes this manual unique is the take that no two kids are alike. Individuals develop and use their communication skills in different ways. The same goes with the way they learn.

Many kids don’t have a trustworthy adult to talk with or may not be comfortable bringing up these topics. The easy to read book would be a perfect jumping off point for a classroom discussion. These skills are ones that will be useful throughout life.

Colorful illustrations support the text and are often humorous. Adult readers will be wishing they had the book available in their tween and teen years.

WHAT CAN I SAY? It’s terrific!

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Kids in middle grade school often find it difficult to communicate or what to do in new situations. She discusses the basic social goals including manners indirectly. How to say hi to someone new, what to do about prejudice, how to be an ally and be supportive are only a few of the different social skills she talks about. She gives examples of what to do and what not to do. The author has done an excellent job of explaining skills I would not even consider social skills — just good manners. The art is friendly and funny. Fogg did an excellent job as the art goes perfectly with book. So many people are only communicating on their cell phones so when they meet an actual person, they may not know what to say or have forgotten because it’s been so long not sure what to do. This happens even at home. I like the author’s common sense and how she lets you know it is okay to be yourself. This book is important to read regardless of your age.

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