Holiday House/February 6, 2024

Can Lou Bennett keep a secret? She’ll do just about anything to prove herself to her new friend—and the best friend she betrayed—in this debut novel that is a modern-day Harriet the Spy with high emotional stakes.

It’s the thirty-fourth day of sixth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Missouri, and eleven-year-old Lou wishes she could rewind time.

Lou wants to go back to the ninth day of sixth grade—the day before she fought with her best friend Francie and said the terrible, horrible things she can’t unsay. Or better yet, she would go back to fifth grade when Francie was still the Old Francie.

Then the new girl, Cece Clark-Duncan, passes Lou a mysterious note. It says she was kidnapped. (!) If Lou can help Cece, maybe she can prove she’s not the world’s worst friend.

But as observant Lou uncovers the complicated truth about Cece’s family, she starts to panic. Can she help Cece without hurting her? Or will Lou end up losing another friend instead?

Anchored by an outstanding voice and a page-turning mystery, this remarkable debut novel honors the powerful middle school friendships that can both break and heal a tender eleven-year-old heart. Perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and My Jasper June.

Praise for Not the Worst Friend in the World

★ “[A] pitch-perfect middle grade novel. . . . The mystery and plentiful conversation help keep the momentum going all the way to the end.”The Horn Book, Starred Review

★ “Rellihan creates an appealing narrator. . .  An engaging story told from a convincingly tween-age perspective.”—Booklist, Starred Review

★ “The mystery will reel readers in, while the emotions and relationships make this a book to savor.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“A highly recommended story about friendship, family, and growing pains.”—School Library Journal

“Debut author Rellihan adeptly renders Lou’s pain from her broken friendship.”—Publishers Weekly

“Anne Rellihan’s Lou is one of the most authentic narrators I’ve read in years. Anxious, self-aware, and endlessly fumbling, but with such an enormous heart that it’s impossible not to love her. Not the Worst Friend in the World is a book about just how complicated friendship and family can be, and how much they both matter in the end.” —Laurel Snyder, author of My Jasper June

“This book has all the drama—family secrets, friendship breakups, and the painful consequences of one’s own mistakes. The slow reveal of mysteries kept me turning pages, while the vivid small-town setting reminded me of the best of Kate DiCamillo.” —Amy Noelle Parks, author of Kirkus and School Library Journal Best Book Summer of Brave

“Not the Worst Friend in the World has it all: quirky characters, vivid settings, and a mystery guaranteed to keep readers up past bedtime. Anne Rellihan has given us a rich and wonderful story about the tangled threads of friends and family, and the power of love to heal a broken heart.” —Megan E. Freeman, author of Alone