Study Guide

Doll Bones Friendship

By Holly Black


Poppy turned impatiently to Zach for an explanation. She never liked it when she wasn't part of a conversation and hated the idea that her friends had kept any secrets from her. (1.49)

Poppy hates feeling left out. Which is a problem, because Zach and Alice's friendship might be turning into something more.

One by one the mass of kids who walked home together would gather and then peel away into clumps headed in different directions, until it was just Poppy and Alice and him. Then one of them would ask, "Want to play?" like always. (3.19)

As readers, we only witness the gang play one time before Zach's dad ditches his toys. But we know that getting together after school has been their routine for a while—note the inclusion of "like always" at the end of this excerpt. Playing the game is part of their daily lives.

Alice's descriptions of Lady Jaye's antics had made Zach laugh so hard that his stomach hurt. (4.24)

Sounds like a great first date, right? Well, more accurately it was a play date, since Lady Jaye is a toy. But still.

He thought about how he'd met them both, when they were all little kids. […] The first time the three of them had hung out, they'd dangled upside down from the jungle gym […]. (8.13)

Zach, Alice, and Poppy go way back. Well, they're only twelve now, but you get the idea. As far back as twelve year olds can go.

"You wouldn't do that," Alice said, her voice hushed. "You're my best friend. That's a secret." (10.67)

Spoiler alert: Poppy would totally do that. And later in the book, she spills the beans, announcing that Alice has a crush on Zach. Oops.

He knew that he'd been the bad friend, the liar, the one that had started everybody fighting. (12.38)

Zach shoulders a lot of guilt for his misadventure with his friends. If he had only been honest with them in the first place…

He glanced back at Poppy. She looked crushed, like she was on the outside of a glass looking in at something she wanted desperately. (13.79)

Poppy is feeling left out again. You know what they say: Two's company, but three's a crowd.

They slid across the floor in their stocking feet, hiding behind stacks and riding on the book carts, shrieking as they went. (13.98)

In the library, the gang is able to cut loose and act like their old selves for a bit. It's nice while it lasts.

"You guys have to make up. You're friends. You're supposed to be friends. You can't just not talk, or talk in the weird not-talking way you've both been." (13.108)

Sometimes it seems like Zach worries more about the rift between Alice and Poppy than his own friendships with them. He's just considerate like that.

He thought about the way they'd all been friends for so long that they even shared mannerisms. (14.56)

Aw, they're just like an old married couple. Except there are three of them. And they're twelve years old. Same difference, right?

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