Finally Thirteen tells the story of best friends Calista Snipe, Tabatha Tyler, and Skylar McCray’s experiences as they embark on to Junior High. Like their peers, these teenagers have to traverse the daily life of high school with its cliques, many new faces, after school clubs, and sporting and social events, as well as the all-important teen issues of working out what to wear! As if they did not already have enough to deal with, there are also a few other dramas along the way, such as a blossoming drug trade in their school. The friends already had a testing time in sixth grade, when they were nearly kidnapped by the evil crime boss Wee Willie Sturgis and his two cronies, who are currently serving time in prison for the offense. Author Richard Read mentions this incident a few times throughout this book, so it is unnecessary to read previous books in the series to follow the novel.
This is a very character-driven story. Read does very well in attempting to explain who is who among the minor characters, although it may confuse some young readers, especially at the dances or party. When Tabatha sneaks off to a party, there are no holds barred where Read describes some of the trouble she could get into, and an active imagination could certainly fill in the blanks.
This is a great book to show young readers how others of their age range may traverse the complexities of adolescence and some of the situations that girls, especially, may find themselves in. I personally love the strength of the friendships described in Finally Thirteen, as friendships are an important part of growing up.