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Reviewed by Lois J Wickstrom for Readers' Favorite
Five Fortunes by Barbara Venkataraman is a sweet tale of five best friends who buy their fortunes at an arcade vending machine before the story opens. They think it will be fun, but they start to take their fortunes seriously and let their problems preoccupy their thoughts rather than their friendships. The friends begin to misinterpret each other’s mistakes and mishaps as insults, and misunderstandings appear to be undermining their long-term friendship. The girls come from different cultural backgrounds, different economic situations, different interests, and different family structures, but they have been friends since elementary school. This story watches their lifelong friendship take the strain but eventually recover. Some of the best scenes occur when the girls form new friendships outside their cliques and forget entirely about their fortune-telling.
I thought it was interesting to observe a friendship among a basketball player, a beekeeper, a girl who volunteers at a puppy shelter, a girl who writes a fashion blog, and a girl who helps her dad at his bookstore after school. They eat lunch together, make jokes together, and find things to do together, like going to the arcade. They do argue, but mostly in the ways old friends who know each other well do until they get their fortunes told. The fortunes ultimately lead to personal insights and new understandings within their deep-rooted friendships. Barbara Venkataraman’s Five Fortunes is both realistic and sympathetic and recommended for those about to enter high school with their friends, as watching other girls a little older than they are may help prepare them for the changes they are about to experience themselves.