DiscoverMiddle Grade

Fitting Out: The Friendship Experiment


Loved it! 😍

Fitting Out is a charming book that provides a comical, raw account about a relatable protagonist who learns to embrace his true colors.

While reading Fitting Out: The Friendship Experiment by Sarah Giles, Dr. Seuss’s whimsical quote comes to my mind: Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

In Fitting Out, a quirky 9-year-old boy named Max “McLonely” McConk is on a quest to find friends. His bestie Miguel is moving away. This is a quandary for the shy, bushy-haired Max who marches to the beat of his own drum and whose personality type is slow to warm up. If it weren’t for gregarious Miguel’s forthcoming approach to seek Max out as a pal, the two would have never buddied up. Now, it’s up to Max to fend for himself in his pursuit of friends, and he only has a few days before the first day of fourth-grade to pull it off. 

Poised for the challenge, McLonely maps out this mission in his trusty composition notebook, charting and testing different hypotheses to bag some new bros. While applying the scientific experiment to find friends, he ponders: Is age a factor? Is the epitome of cool embodying his highly likable older brother by sporting a fake moustache and popping his plaid shirt collar? Or, maybe Max is the cool one all the other kids in his class should emulate. But if everyone were exactly like Max – the green-eyed, cape-wearing bookworm with an odd sense of humor who has little-known facts about animals at his fingertips – would life really be all that new and exciting? Is there a formula to making friends or should he let the connections happen organically?

Age-appropriate for elementary-aged kids, Fitting Out is a charming, easy-to-read book that provides a comical, yet raw account about a relatable protagonist who learns to embrace his true colors and musters up the courage to find his tribe. Though the book touches on certain concepts that may seem clichéd to an adult reader, it is a worthy reading pleasure that speaks to the hopeless kid who may abandon his or her own inner cool for the pressures of acceptance into some social circle and a coveted place at the lunch table. Giles teaches fragile minds that keeping the focus on blending with the crowd can take away from recognizing their own special offerings. Thus, the book summons the musing of Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” 

What’s more, the story harkens back to the bee girl in Blind Melon’s 1992 hit song “No Rain,” introducing a new generation to the mini misfit in the music video who was jeered at and ignored, but eventually finds her bliss in a kingdom full of other like-minded bees.

Fitting Out is a mixed bag of magic, serendipity, defeat and hope – the essence of a young person’s anxious venture to seek their place. The author’s use of symbolism and characterization, tailoring the protagonist’s personal style to the narrative, make this book a bona fide page-turner. There’s even a brief vocabulary lesson for young readers to brush up on their schoolyard slang!     

Reviewed by

A seasoned journalist and editor, I've written for the weekly division of the North Jersey Media Group covering municipal government to arts and entertainment. Currently, I serve as the editor of DiningOut New Jersey Magazine and a correspondent with


About the author

Early in the morning, before starting her day as a working mom, Sarah can be found at her desk happily writing new adventures. She loves to create, craft, and build and her "happy place" is atop a paddleboard on a quiet lake. Sarah lives in Washington with her family, two cats and three robots. view profile

Published on February 25, 2019

Published by

6000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Middle Grade

Reviewed by