Behind The Book BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)?

Girl reading the book BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)

The celebrate the release of BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships, here is a peek into the inspiration and research behind the book.

1. What was the inspiration for BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)A Girls Guide to Happy Friendship?

When my two daughters entered the preteen years, friendship struggles started to emerge. This reminded me of my experience as well as the stories of so many others. So I got curious. 

I’ve got a background in social sciences and have always been fascinated with human relationships. I dove into books and research on the subject. I also started a friendship program for elementary school girls. This program and the stories of girls shaped this book from start to finish. 

2. Why are friendship and social struggles common in the preteen and teen years, especially for girls? 

When we explore everything going during this phase of life, it’s not surprising that social struggles happen. Girls’ confidence drops between the ages of 8-14. Some studies find that confidence dips as much as 30% in girls, leading to self-doubt, social anxiety, and risk avoidance. 

At the same time, preteens are becoming more reliant on peers. Friendships begin to replace family as tweens’ primary source of identity and support. Preteens also start exploring their own identity. Who their friends are, what they wear, what activities they do. 

All of this happens alongside the physiological changes of adolescence. So yes, social changes and struggles are common in the preteen and teen years! In my friendship programs, the notion that change and struggle are normal was a huge relief to girls. This is emphasized in the book too.

3. What is your favorite bit of advice to give to girls struggling with friendship?

It’s helpful for girls (and everyone) to know that friendships struggles are normal, especially during the preteen years. We are all perfectly imperfect humans and learning at our own pace. There is nothing wrong with them. I encourage girls to stay open to change and new friendships. And, to keep practicing healthy friendship skills as that is really the only thing we can control.

4. BFF or NRF has interactive components, like quizzes and fill-in-the-blanks. Why is that important? 

It can be tough to navigate social issues the moment they happen. The book’s interactive nature gives readers a chance to reflect when they are not right in the moment. The activities help girls learn more about themselves as well as others. Something magic happens when we put words on paper or on screen. Quizzes and activities give girls a chance to think about who they are, how they want to behave, and how they might respond in challenging situations.

5. What did the writing/editing process for the book look like? Was it difficult to write the interactive parts of the book, or were the quizzes, etc., the easy part?

I’ve heard from other writers that you know when you are onto something when your book flows out of you. That was my experience with BFF or NRF. After working with girls, I knew this book had to be written. I loved writing the interactive parts (quizzes, activities, etc.), so that was easy and fun for me. I slowed down when writing the stories as I wanted the book to be as inclusive, respectful, and honest as possible. 

6. Your degree is in social sciences, so you had some idea of what you were diving into when you started writing. What was the research process for the book? Did you draw from the knowledge you already had, dig into a lot of book research, or was it a combination of both? 

It was a combination of both. I have a solid understanding of human relationships and behavior but needed to dive deeper into adolescence. Luckily there’s a lot of research and books on the topic. Some of my favorite authors and experts on preteen and teen girls are Rosiland Wiseman, Lisa Damour, Trudy Ludwig, and Rachel Simmons.

7. BFF or NRF is a clever title. Can you talk about how you came up with it?

I was actually on a hike, which is often when I get my best ideas. I knew I needed an engaging title to pique girls’ interest. BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends) also sums up what many girls experience during this phase. 

8. What’s up next for you?

I’m excited to share that my second book about middle school releases next August 2022. Like BFF or NRF, this middle-grade book is filled with stories, humor, and activities, including choose-your-own-ending adventures. 

About the Author: Jessica Speer is the author of BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships. She has a master’s degree in social sciences and focuses her research and writing on social-emotional topics for kids and families. To learn more, visit,

Published by Jessica Speer, Author

Author and Advocate for Kids and Families

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