This sequel to 11 before 12 continues to follow BFFs Arianna (Ari) and Kaylan as they make a new birthday bucket list: twelve goals to meet before they turn 13 years old “to make them even more awesome.” But this time, they’ll have to start working on the list items separately — Ari is at Jewish summer camp, making new friends, while Kaylan is home, growing closer with other girls from school. So much in each of their lives is changing. Will the girls even be able to check off the first item on the list: “Keep friendship strong”?
Older readers may be slightly put off by the idiosyncratic tween dialogue, but the book’s intended audience will identify with the authentic characters and their middle school dramas, which range from boys and family woes, to school cliques and self-knowledge. It’s also nice to see bat mitzvah content here that focuses as much on the party as on the Torah portion and its underlying meaning and importance.