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Author Spotlight: Natasha Friend

Natasha Friend tackles some big questions in her books: What if you finally became friends with someone popular - but the friendship hurt you? What if your best friend encouraged your eating disorder? What if your parent got remarried to someone with half a dozen other kids? What if you had to move? What if your parent was an alcoholic? Yet her books never feel heavy-handed or cliched. There's something wonderful about her writing. She approaches tough subject matter without flinching and creates characters which are honest and layered. In the past decade years, she's released four novels for teens, with another on the horizon.

Perfect focuses on Isabelle, who struggles with an eating disorder after her father dies. In group therapy, she unexpectedly befriends an extremely popular girl. Everyone knows (or wants to know) Ashley. She's the "perfect" girl who doesn't seem to have any problems whatsoever. Ashley encourages their eating disorders; the girls hang out at her house and binge and purge when no one else is around. Isabelle has to realize that their friendship is hurting her in more ways than one before things get worse.

Lush is my favorite book by Friend to date. When Sam needs a confidant, a surrogate big sister, she turns to a perfect stranger: another girl she's seen in the library. She leaves the older girl a note pressed between the pages of a book and asks her to please write back. The response isn't exactly what she expected, but it's what she needed. The two continue to correspond in this manner until it's apparent they should really talk. After all, the other person is the only one Sam's told about her dad's alcoholism, even though she has a solid group of best friends. This is SUCH a good book. Read my review of Lush.

Friend's third book, Bounce, gets its title from a mom who encourage her daughter to let the bad stuff just bounce right off of her. Except the mom isn't really there. Evyn's mom died when she was a baby, but she pretends that they can still talk to one another, especially when things are hard. Now her dad is getting remarried and moving Evyn and her brother across the country to live with their big new family. And I mean big. Evyn's stepmother-to-be already has six kids of her own. The house is crowded, the city is unfamiliar, and even though her own brother and dad are there, Evyn doesn't feel at home at all. How can she fit in when she feels like there's no room for her?

You know that time that you realized your parents were people, too, and, whether or not you were close to them, it was kind of hard to wrap your head about that fact? If you liked Gilmore Girls, you will like For Keeps. Josie is extremely close to her mom, who was a teenager when Josie was born. Now Josie is sixteen, enjoying time with her mom, her fun best friend, Liv, and a boy who could possibly be her boyfriend -- when her father is suddenly back in town. Since he's been absent her entire life, Josie is understandably wary of this relative stranger. Soon, what she learns about her family changes her impressions of each of her parents.

Natasha Friend's next novel, My Life in Black & White, will be published in June. I look forward to checking it out.

Visit the author's official website.

Related Posts
Tough Issues for Teens Booklist
Author Spotlights at Bildungsroman
Tags: articles, author spotlight, books, reviews, sparklife, sparknotes
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