The ‘Secret Language of Girls’ Trilogy

The Secret Language of Girls, The Kind of Friends We Used to Be, and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away

“Girls will recognize their own dilemmas here and feel encouraged by the author’s honest and sympathetic approach.” —Publishers Weekly

Middle school friendships can be complicated, but if anyone understands the secret language of girls, it’s bestselling author Frances O’Roark Dowell in this collectible boxed set of a perceptive and relatable trilogy. Marylin and Kate used to be best friends, but middle school has a funny knack for getting in the way. Can two girls who grew up together, but have vastly different interests, stay friends forever? This boxed set of Frances O’Roark Dowell’s widely praised trilogy includes all three installments of Marylin and Kate’s roller coster friendship: The Secret Language of Girls, The Kind of Friends We Used to Be, and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away.


Praise for The Secret Language of Girls trilogy

In a perceptive slice-of-life novel, Dowell (Dovey Coe) knowingly portrays the changing dynamics of middle-school relationships. —Publishers Weekly

Excellent characterization, an accurate portrayal of the painful and often cruel machinations of preteens, and evocative dialogue will make this tale resonate with most readers, who will see themselves and some of their peers in its pages. —School Library Journal

What makes this offering stand out is Dowell’s ability to maintain the reader’s sympathy with both girls: instead of painting the social-climbing Marylin as a villain, the nuanced characterization shows that she is equally a victim of forces beyond her understanding. —Kirkus Reviews

This touching sequel to The Secret Language of Girls alternates perspectives between Kate and Marylin. This allows for a nuanced portrait of an evolving friendship… By building sympathy for both characters, Frances O’Roark Dowell creates an emotionally complex story of girls going their separate ways but managing to reconnect, sometimes in a funny and poignant fashion. —The Washington Post

The territory is familiar, but for girls on either end of a friendship whose contours keep changing, Dowell’s treatment will act as a balm. —Publishers Weekly

This insightful sequel to The Secret Language of Girls (S & S, 2004) stands alone, but readers will want to go back and find out more about these engaging characters… A realistic and humorous look at the trials and tribulations of growing up and growing independent. —School Library Journal

Dowell’s light but observant style reveals the benefits of not judging anybody — including yourself — too quickly. —Booklist

Another quietly perceptive tour de force. —Kirkus, starred review


The Secret Language of Girls

secret language of girlsIn the old days, when Kate had no interest in romance, she never cared what other people thought. Now, it appeared, love was turning her into a rotten human being.

Eleven-year-old Kate Faber wishes she could talk to her best friend, Marylin, about this. But Marylin is no longer her best friend. Or is she? Kate and Marylin were always the kind of best friends who lived on the same block for their entire lives, and who agreed on what kinds of boys were worth kissing and who should be invited to their sleepover. The kind of best friends who didn’t need words to talk, but who always just knew.

But lately Marylin has started to think that Kate can be a bit babyish. And Kate thinks Marylin is acting like a big snob. Somehow nothing is the same, but secretly Kate and Marylin both wish it could be…


The Kind of Friends We Used To Be

secret language of girls 2Kate and Marylin are best friends forever….

Well, except for last year when they weren’t friends anymore….

And except for this year when they both want to be friends again, but just don’t know how.

But the thing is, even as they are trying to fix their broken friendship, they are becoming more and more unalike. And that’s becoming harder and harder to deal with. Well, it would be a lot easier if Kate would just take some of Marylin’s fashion advice. Ballet flats would look so much better than those big black combat boots. Feminine. But Kate doesn’t want to be feminine. She wants to learn guitar and write her own songs; she wants to be the exact opposite of the middle-school cheerleaders. And maybe if Marylin would just stick up for herself and not get bullied by Mazie (the Meanest Cheerleader Ever) into judging anyone who’s the least bit different, Marylin and Kate could be real friends again.

Funny, realistic, and incredibly insightful, Edgar Award-winning novelist Frances O’Roark Dowell explores the shifting terrain of middle-school friendship in the companion book to the well-loved The Secret Language of Girls.


The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away

secret language of girls 3In the third book in the bestselling Secret Language of Girls trilogy, Marylin and Kate find that boys can be just as complicated as friendship…

Marylin knows that, as a middle school cheerleader, she has certain obligations. She has to smile as she walks down the hall, be friends with the right people, and keep her manicure in tip-top shape. But Marylin is surprised to learn there are also rules about whom she’s allowed to like — and Benjamin, the student body president, is deemed unnacceptable. But maybe there is a way to convince the cheerleaders that her interest in Benjamin is for their own good — maybe she’ll pretend that she’s using him to get new cheerleading uniforms!

Kate, of course, finds this ludicrous. She is going to like whom she likes, thank you very much. And she just so happens to be spending more time than ever with Matthew Holler. But even a girl who marches to the beat of her own guitar strings can play the wrong notes — and are she and Matthew even playing the same song? She’s just not sure. So when Matthew tells Kate that the school’s Audio Lab needs funding from the student government, she decides to do what she can to help him get it.

But there isn’t enough money to go around, and it soon becomes clear that only one of the two girls can get her way. Ultimately, though, is it even her way? Or are both girls pushing for something they never really wanted in the first place?