Friend has two other books Perfect and Bounce that teen girls have discovered for themselves and pass around among friends. Books that teens recommend to each other are the best of the best even if those giving awards don't think so. Finally, I've gotten around to finding out what the attraction to Friend's books is. They're problem novels. This one is about being a teen with an alcoholic parent. But, that's not the attraction to these books, at least I don't think so.
In this book eighth grader Sam is one of a group of four close friends. They do sleep-overs and whisper about unmentionable topics. Sam is a fairly ordinary kid as most kids are. She says 8Th grade boys are jerks (they are) and misses friendships with boys before they became jerks. She locks herself in the bathroom and assesses her looks. She tries a little make-up. She makes herself weird popcorn treats for comfort food. She experiences her first kiss and her first teen party. She makes mistakes, some really bad and apologizes and matures a little. Her father drinks and is in denial at least until four-year-old Luke is hurt by a flying bottle. Sam worries about her parents and Luke and seeks help via letters left in a library book. Who replies and the friendship that develops is really cool. Sam's feelings toward her father and the resolution of this book are very natural. The story has a very real feel to it. Sam is every teen girl, brave, vulnerable, imperfect, very likable. It was a relief for me not to be reading about blond cheerleaders, name brand "everything", mean girls, cliques, current popular teen fare. Yeah I see why kids like Friend. Yes I recommend her books.