Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Review: For Keeps by Natasha Friend
For the sixteen years of Josie Gardner’s life, it’s only been her and her mom, Kate. Josie’s father, Paul Tucci, moved away with his family, leaving Kate, a high school junior, pregnant, and Josie has never met him. But when Paul’s parents move back to the neighborhood, suddenly things begin to change. Josie nervously dips her toes into a romantic relationship for the first time, and Kate too is involved with another man.
So what happens when Kate and Josie’s World of Two is suddenly forced to expand, and even collides with the world of the last man Josie would ever trust—and the one she most wants to?
The premise sounds similar to the familial setup of Gilmore Girls, and in a way it is the story of Lorelai, Christopher, and Rory through Rory’s point of view. And thankfully the “Rory” in Natasha Friend’s story is not as off-putting or unbelievably awkward-pretty as Alexis Bledel. FOR KEEPS is a gentle contemporary read, but the degree to which I was invested in Josie’s story took me by delightful surprise.
Josie is a fabulously multifaceted character, with a strong and memorable voice. She’s got snark and guts, even while grappling with her problem of her lack of trust in men. Above all, she is resilient: when bad things occur, she may hide and retract into her shell for a while, but we get to the point where we have faith in her healing soon.
The other characters also have good voices, quirky but never stereotypical, though I would have liked to have gotten to learn more about Kate. Kate is the central figure in Josie’s life, but in between worrying about the proximity of her father’s family, and her dealings with her crush, Josie-the-narrator unfortunately forgets to show us the strength and “width” of her relationship with her mother, instead assuming we know what it’s like through generalized “telling” statements. The plot, also, is a bit on the weak side: the story starts off strong, with an incredible protagonist voice, but does quite reach its full potential on the scale of epicness.
In spite of those few issues I had with the book, though, I thoroughly enjoyed reading FOR KEEPS. It was my first Natasha Friend novel, but it’s definitely a keeper for me, with my love for its well-voiced MC, and if Natasha’s other books are anything like this one, I will have a new favorite author on the horizon.
Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - It's so generic, but I do like the picture (I've featured it in a Cover Lust post before), and the superimposed "letter" over it.
Viking Juvenile / April 6, 2010 / Hardcover / 272pp. / $16.99
ARC received from Dark Faerie Tales ARC Tours.