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The Friendship Code: Girls Who Code, Book 1

Review

The Friendship Code: Girls Who Code, Book 1

THE FRIENDSHIP CODE by Stacia Deutsch is the first novel in a new series inspired by the national nonprofit organization, Girls Who Code. Girls Who Code aims to close the gender gap in technology and computer science. Releasing on the same day as THE FRIENDSHIP CODE is Girls Who Code’s nonfiction book for a slightly older audience called GIRLS WHO CODE: Learn to Code and Change the World.

The founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, wrote a compelling foreword for THE FRIENDSHIP CODE that is bound to inspire young girls. The main author, Stacia Deutsch, is a New York Times bestselling author who has written over 50 books for children. Deutsch has also written books for Nancy Drew, Clue Crew, and The Boxcar Children.

"THE FRIENDSHIP CODE teaches coding disguised as riddles and fun scavenger hunts, and I think that is an especially efficient way to make girls attracted to coding. This novel successfully and simultaneously teaches coding, tells a relatable story and gets girls interested in what computer science has to offer."

The foreword for THE FRIENDSHIP CODE, written by Reshma Saujani, offers the reader a compelling note from the woman who started it all. Saujani successfully communicates her desire and motivation to inspire girls to learn computer science. As a student of the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, I can say that the mission means everything, and Reshma has truly created an excellent organization for girls. THE FRIENDSHIP CODE has unlimited potential to get girls to code, and now that Girls Who Code has decided to spread coding through books, I know that this series is bound to be successful.

The first installment of the fictional series from Girls Who Code introduces the first set of characters and coding topics. The main character, Lucy, is eager to start coding real-life projects in her Coding Club, but that is not exactly going as planned. Lucy is curious about everything, and she is adamant about starting to code an app right away. She soon begins to realize, however, that coding may involve more than she thought. When she starts getting coded messages that she can’t figure out, she goes on an epic scavenger hunt that teaches her and her friends coding logic along the way.

I was shocked by how much Lucy reminded me myself when I was in middle school. She is just one of those characters who I immediately identified with, and I know that tons of young girls could benefit from a curious, perceptive and resourceful main character to look up to. Lucy is incredibly relatable and perfectly captures the insecurities, mindset and maturity (or immaturity) expected of a middle school girl.

Lucy’s family is a highlight of the story, and her parents bend traditional gender roles: her mother is the computer programmer, and her father is the artist. I could not help but to enjoy seeing this nontraditional relationship represented. Lucy’s older brother, Alex, reminded me a lot of real sibling interactions I have experienced, and it is exciting to have a genuine, yet annoying, sibling as a significant part of the story. Lucy’s friends, Maya, Sophia, and Erin, each brought different personalities, backgrounds and skills to the friend group. Any girl who reads this story is going to find at least one of them to identify closely with.

THE FRIENDSHIP CODE teaches coding disguised as riddles and fun scavenger hunts, and I think that is an especially efficient way to make girls attracted to coding. This novel successfully and simultaneously teaches coding, tells a relatable story and gets girls interested in what computer science has to offer. Readers will come away from this book introduced to coding syntax and some basic coding principles that are fundamental to all coding languages, which Girls Who Code programs teach as “Core 4,” including Conditionals, Loops, Functions and Variables.

By the end of the story, adorable coding jokes are embedded in the dialogue, and the reader can understand them and know that they have learned something. Lucy seriously impressed me with the depth and possible application of her ideas. She cares about real life issues and creating something that could change the world. I think that Deutsch did an exceptional job incorporating everything that THE FRIENDSHIP CODE is trying to achieve, and I was very impressed with the novel overall.

I highly recommend THE FRIENDSHIP CODE to elementary and early middle school girls with no background in coding or even those with some coding knowledge. I believe this novel can make a change and encourage a new generation of female coders. The next book in the series, TEAM BFF: Race to the Finish!, will be for sale in December 2017, and I will definitely be picking it up. This series has serious potential to be a real change-maker for society.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on August 22, 2017

The Friendship Code: Girls Who Code, Book 1
(Girls Who Code #2)
by Stacia Deutsch and Reshma Saujani