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Robin Friedman : author and journalist

The Girlfriend Project

Walker & Company - Bloomsbury Children’s Books |
April 2007 | Teen Novel

cover for The Girlfriend ProjectInspiration

Everybody I knew was writing a Young Adult novel. Why not me? But so many of the YA novels I read were about girls. Why not one about a boy?

I have friends who are the parents of teenage boys. And I have a teenage brother too! The more I hung with these guys, the more I realized their cool act was just that — an act. Underneath all that false bravado were some exceptionally sensitive young men.

I instantly had to tell their story. Then I met a plumber named Reed, and I thought, hey, I like that! And then I met a plumber named Lonnie…and I liked that too! (You certainly can’t say writers don’t take advantage of the strange stuff in their lives.)

Reed Walton became my seventeen-year-old protagonist, Lonnie White became his best friend, and Ronnie White, Lonnie’s fraternal twin sister, completed the threesome.

And we were off!



Reed Walton, seventeen-year-old Ultimate Nice Guy, has never had a girlfriend or even kissed a girl. At this rate, the Princeton-bound senior may be headed for the priesthood.

But Reed’s next-door neighbors and best friends since kindergarten, Lonnie and Ronnie White, have hatched a plan on the day before senior year starts at Marlborough Regional High School.

And, ready or not, The Girlfriend Project is about to change Reed’s life in ways he can’t imagine.



“Friedman's effort is packed with laughs and dang-I-pity-the-fool embarrassing scenes… Recommended for teenage girls of almost all ages, this title is a feel-good story for those who are hoping to find their true love.”

Voice of Youth Advocates

“In this short, quirky work, Friedman brings to life what every teenager fears—rejection. This easy-going novel presents pressures and insecurities that every teenager faces and ties the book’s morals with a flourish. THE GIRLFRIEND PROJECT will keep everyone laughing and make you remember the awkward years of high school and just trying to make it through your first date.”

Voice of Youth Advocates, Teen Reviewer

“Reed Walton has gone from dork to stud over the summer. His best friends and next door neighbors, the twins Ronnie and Lonnie, are helping him adjust to his new status… There is a lot to like in this unpredictable romance/friendship/coming of age novel… Though the cover will attract more female readers, I hope some guys will discover this novel, too.”

Professor Nana/The Goddess of YA Literature

“Reed is a senior in high school who has never been on a date. Not one. His best friends, fraternal twins Lonnie and Ronnie, create The Girlfriend Project. Their friendly advice and handwritten lists of dating do’s and don’ts evolves into a website where kids can leave feedback. When Reed starts acting more confident, girls from both school and work notice him. Before he knows it, he’s gone on his first date – and his second date the very next day! But Reed is ultimately unimpressed by the girls that are interested in him, and he falls for the girl next door instead… Though this book is all about one teen’s quest for romance, it stays fairly clean. Reed wants to find a girl that likes him for him, not for his appearance, and he would rather have a heart-to-heart talk than a naughty rendezvous. Were the book a film, it would be given a tame PG rating. If you want a cute story about first dates and gentle break-ups, if you liked SAVED BY THE BELL, or if your heart belongs in New Jersey, give THE GIRLFRIEND PROJECT by Robin Friedman a try.”

—Bildungsroman at Slayground


“Seventeen-year-old narrator Reed, a ‘Card-Carrying Dork,’ has never had a girlfriend or even kissed a girl, so his popular best friends launch ‘The Girlfriend Project’… Friedman adds some clever touches here: she blends Reed’s own identity search with his home state’s search for a motto, which leads to some fun exchanges between the characters.”

Publishers Weekly

“Nice guys don’t always have to finish last… Watching Reed slowly morph from a completely awkward AP dork to a more confident and independent young man is amusing, with plenty of hilarious, embarrassing moments. It’s great to get a look inside Reed’s mind, and find out what high school guys are really thinking… Reed really dispels the myth that high school boys are only interested in the physical part of a relationship. He is a surprisingly sensitive and sweet guy, and maybe after reading this book, girls will give that shy guy at the back of the class a chance when he tries to talk to you. This book addresses the whole issue of high school dating very clearly, with a lot of humor, but also with a lot of truth. Robin Friedman has a great understanding of how confusing the teenage years can be, especially when you are trying to figure out just what ‘being yourself’ really means.”


“Reed has always been a dorky all-round nice guy with thick glasses and braces. During the summer he transforms like a phoenix into a notable hottie. With no social graces, his friends come to the rescue and set up a website to help him find a girlfriend.”

—Top Picks
Courtesy of St. Albert Public Library, St. Albert Gazette

“Reed has spent his high school years as a spectacled geek, but matures over the summer and starts his senior year as a ‘hottie.’ Confused about the attention he receives from girls who previously scorned him, he attempts dating with mixed success. I loved the descriptions of his attempts to talk to girls; this will make 8th grader boys who are just starting to notice girls feel much better about their own discomfort. The blue cover is not girly, and the high school setting does not descend into foul language, excessive substance abuse (there is some beer drinking, but it’s painted in an unflattering light), or rampant sexuality (there’s some kissing). Reed begins to realize that looks aren't everything, which was a nice message, but also that sometimes what you think you want for really good reasons just doesn’t work out…. This is a great read for reluctant boys who secretly want to read romance books and just don’t want to admit it!”

— Ms. Yingling Reads

“Author Friedman’s novel is a fun read. She tells the story of seventeen-year-old Reed Walton who has a big problem. He has never dated a girl nor kissed one. His friends, and the sister and brother team Ronnie and Lonnie, want to change that by creating the girlfriend project. A list of tips on how to ask girls out on a date is put together by Ronnie and Lonnie, who are heavy daters, and also includes words of wisdom for their friend…. The ending is just right for this book about the trials and tribulations of young people navigating the world of dating and first love.”

— Children’s Literature

“Reed’s a little clueless, but very charming (I mean, hey, where was this guy when I was in high school??) and definitely doesn’t have a big head about his newfound popularity… I really liked this book and the character of Reed. He’s very lovable and believable. It’s easy to see why the girls start flocking to him once they figure out what is what.”

— Young Adult Books Central

“It’s a good story about a project engineered by a brother and sister for the benefit of their out-of-it, life-long neighbor, Reed. By all parental standards Reed’s the ideal kid, but in the dating department, the poor guy is a self-conscious, miserable failure. Reed’s 82-year-old grandmother gets more action than he does. The tale opens by our hero referring to himself as Dorkus Extremus and then takes more turns than the Jersey turnpike—where the love story is set.”

— Wild Rumpus