Leslie Connor’s Anybody Here Seen Frenchie? is as thought provoking as it is emotional.
Aurora is known for being loud and blunt. When a new family moves in next door, Aurora sets off to finally have a friend. When she meets Frenchie and his mom, she learns that Frenchie is as quiet as she is loud: he has autism and is nonverbal. Never one to be deterred by small challenges like communication barriers, Aurora sets out to befriend Frenchie. She quickly understands his communication style, and their friendship is as fast as Aurora’s speech when she’s excited.
When sixth grade divides the two best friends into different classes, Aurora worries about both her and Frenchie being without one another for the first time in three years. As the school year gets going, Aurora pushes them both to include new friends in their group. But Aurora’s world is shaken when Frenchie is suddenly and inexplicably missing from school on a day when they walked inside together.
This tenderhearted book was impossible to put down. Each scene unfolded to show how the little moments of our lives come together to form a rich tapestry that guide us and our loved ones when we’re lost. The strength of community and the power of friendship are gently underscored without being saccharine.
I was equally worried for each of the main characters during Frenchie’s ordeal. The superb character development and vivid setting descriptions made me feel as though I was in the moment with the characters. It adds up to an immersive reading experience with likable, relatable characters in a beautifully described world.
The plot is well paced as it balances the more intense scenes with flashbacks that both explain the decisions the characters make as well as foreshadow the choices that will be made. Each scene feels deliberately chosen, and doesn’t slow down the reader. The backstory and details in these scenes proves vitally important to the plot. It sets up delicious ah-ha moments for the reader to connect the dots on why the characters made certain decisions or felt pulled a particular way.
The multiple points of view create an immersive reading experience, as the reader learns about past instances that influence the characters as well as where they are currently. The character’s voices are distinct and show how well developed each character is, from the main players to the side characters.
The setting was a character unto itself, and I’m now itching to visit Maine as a result. The vivid descriptions of the forests, beaches, and fields really put the reader in the moment. The setting complements the plot beautifully, striking that elusive balance between description and action.
The central themes and messaging are delicately handled. The importance of seeing others fully, not just their abilities or differences, is not overwhelming or overt yet it comes across clearly. I also love how this book shows young readers that they are meant to be themselves, and they shouldn’t have to tone down their personality to fit in. It also serves as a reminder to more grownup readers that kids deserve to be seen and heard.
This book tackles big subjects like neurodivergence, disability, and adoption without being preachy or relying on a savior complex. Aurora isn’t friends with Frenchie because of duty or charity; she is friends with him because they are each other’s special person. It is a beautiful friendship story because of their relationship, and not because of the traits that make them not neurotypical.
This beautiful book highlights the importance of friendship, community, and belonging.
Thank you to Leslie Connor, HarperCollins Children’s Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy such that I could write this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Anybody Here Seen Frenchie? is now available! You can purchase through Bookshop.org here and from Amazon here. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and Amazon. I will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.