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The False Friend

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The False Friend Cover

ISBN13: 9780385527217
ISBN10: 0385527217
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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thegreenangel, January 28, 2011 (view all comments by thegreenangel)
Myla Goldberg's novels, particularly her last, are miraculous to me, as I never thought it was possible to achieve what she’s done. Like the black lacquered Russian Hubble doll I have on my bookshelf, False Friend is at every level marvelous. Each sentence should be taken slowly, allowing all its subtleties free range on the mind’s palette. It’s the equivalent difference between a drive thru at Carl’s and a meal at Chez Panisse. How silly of me to think that I could read False Friends as a quick lunch companion, having its company stuffed in between my rushed daily errands. And me, of the Slow Food movement! The characters are gratifyingly familiar, as known to me as my hands. The opening scene brilliantly brings the story into focus, allowing the reader to hear the word "ladybug" echo in their own ear from some long-ago broad backseat too. The way Goldberg has paced the story, having it unfold gracefully, seemingly on its own, like colored,folded tissue paper, at first floating on, and then blooming and merging into, a still stream; it's both pleasing, and it artfully keeps the necessary narrative tension. Each room we enter, each street in Celia’s old hometown, every landmark we see, we see with fresh eyes. It’s like we’re seeing the rooms of a well-known house,ones we’ve occupied so many times before, for the first time, but while somehow retaining the unalterable sense of total familiarity. And finally, the story itself is the same; like one we’ve known well, and like one we’ve just now heard. Like a forgotten best friend from grade school.

It definitely isn't Bee Season; no. But for that, be grateful!

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cardprincess, January 10, 2011 (view all comments by cardprincess)
This book is told from the perspective of a woman in her early 30's replaying the events of a tragic accident that seemed to have claimed the life of her best friend 20 years earlier. The transitions from past to present times are seamless but not confusing. Aside from not wanting to put the book down because you can't wait to find out what actually happened, the details of "friendships" between young girls are intriguing. I imagine all female readers can relate in some way or another to the trials of interacting with peers during these formative years.
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Teresa Borden, January 6, 2011 (view all comments by Teresa Borden)
I love the pacing and mystery of this story of a woman who suddenly remembers a traumatic childhood incident and her participation in the events leading up to it. What is memory? How reliable is it? What if others remember something very different? How does one reconcile deeply buried feelings of blame and guilt with an adult recognition of the variability of reality? These questions bob beneath the surface of this story of a woman who goes home seeking answers and finds out something far different than she expected.
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Teresa Borden, January 3, 2011 (view all comments by Teresa Borden)
I was slowly but surely seduced into this story of the nuances of an evolving memory of childhood events that had been successfully suppressed for years only to break through in sporadic sharp bursts and slowly emerging truths. I was right there with Celia as she explored and discovered the merging of her childhood past and her present adult life. Even though I imagined that it might end the way it did, it still took my breath away.
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Dollycas, October 19, 2010 (view all comments by Dollycas)
Doubleday Publishing
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Twenty years ago there was a group of highly competitive girls. There was an intensive game of tests, rewards and punishments. One day the girls decided to walk home, down a forbidden street. As they were walking two of the girls, who were arguing, veered off from the group and into the woods along the road, Celia and Djuna. What happened next depends on which girl you ask. One of the girls,who went into the woods, Djuna, did not come out of the woods. Celia tells the other girls and the police she was abducted and the other girls even recall seeing the car, but Celia was lying, Djuna fell into a hole and she walked away and left her there. Celia then blocked the entire thing from her memory.

Twenty years have passed and Celia's memory of that afternoon has been recalled. She feels she cannot go forward in her life until she goes back and confronts her past. When she returns to her home town and reconnects with former friends and her parents and tries to discuss the situation no one believes her. The place where the incident happened in no longer a woods but has been developed into commercial buildings. If Djuna really had died there they would have found her body. Plus all the other girls remember the car that took Djuna away. Was Celia remembering things wrong?

She also learns from her former friends that she was a really terrible friend especially to one of them that believes that instead of trying to own up to what she thought happened, Celia should be apologizing to her for all the terrible things she did to her growing up. While she was nice and sweet to some of her friends she was also a bully to others. She is shocked when the grown up Celia remembers the child Celia and the profound effect her actions along with Djuna's had on the others for the rest of their lives.


This is a very complicated read with a lot of gray areas. It is not really a mystery, but a look into a problem kids today are facing way too often, bullying, and the effect it can have on children for a lifetime. This makes this book very current even as the lead character delves into her past. It examines bullying in a way that is easy to understand for the reader although the main character doesn't seem to get it. The story very slowly reaches the climax but I was conflicted on the ending. It felt like only part of the story was complete and left the reader wondering about the next step in all the character's lives. I will say this was a truly interesting read and that certain parts really tease your brain into thinking about our own memories. How exact is a person's memory? What outside influences change events in our lives from the way they actually happened to how we remember them, or do they have any effect at all? Do our minds change our memories to protect us from pain? This is definitely a psychological novel, not a thriller or a mystery but it will keep you thinking about it and even referring to it long after you read the last word.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author through Newman Communications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385527217
Author:
Goldberg, Myla
Publisher:
Doubleday
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Contemporary Women
Subject:
Family life
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20101005
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.53 x 5.78 x 1.14 in .9094 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Contemporary Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

The False Friend Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385527217 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Myla Goldberg's eagerly anticipated new novel is an eerie meditation on memory, friendship, and the nature of truth. Evocative and gorgeously written, The False Friend is an intelligent and intricate mystery.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Goldberg's unremarkable latest, a neatly constructed if hollow story of memory and deception, begins in the woods surrounding a small upstate New York town, as 11-year-old Celia watches her best friend, Djuna, get into a stranger's car, never to be seen again. At least that's the story Celia gives to the police. Twenty-one years later, Celia returns to her hometown to tell her family and old friends what really happened that fateful day, but her new version of the disappearance is met with disbelief by family and old friends. Meanwhile, Celia's image of her childhood identity is shattered as she listens to descriptions of herself as a child: she was sweet to some, cruel and bullying to others. Goldberg successfully evokes the shades of gray that constitute truth and memory, but her tendency toward self-conscious writerliness and grand pronouncements ('The unadult mind is immune to logic or foresight, unschooled by consequence, and endowed with a biblical sense of justice') prevents the narrative from breaking through its muted tones. Goldberg misplays the setup, trading psychological suspense for a routine story of self-discovery. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , Picking up the current concerns about bullying and "mean girls," Goldberg follows a young woman tracking down a guilty memory from her childhood....Complex, compelling characters who defy pigeonholing."
"Review" by , "Goldberg uses beautiful, emotionally descriptive language to keep us with one ear to the ground, listening for the slow, quiet footsteps of creeping tragedy."
"Review" by , "Fascinating and fresh...Goldberg does a crackerjack job of showing a former factory town on the wane; a family, like the town, that hasn't moved forward; and a character, also stagnating, trying to discover an elusive truth....With psychological shrewdness, generosity and a sure hand, Goldberg circles her way to an ending that is both satisfying and unsatisfying. Like life."
"Review" by , "The term mean girls is elevated to a new level in Goldberg's moody novel...this is a layered, understated novel about the complex, ambiguous nature of memory and its effect on the dynamics of relationships. Great fodder for reading groups."
"Review" by , "A compelling exploration of the fallibility of memory, explored through richly drawn characters."
"Review" by , "Fans of Goldberg's first novel, Bee Season, will love The False Friend...[A] brisk, unforgettable story. The False Friend leaves us wanting more, as all good fiction should."
"Review" by , "One of the most emotionally rich novels I've read this year....Intellectually rigorous, psychologically astute and beautifully written, The False Friend provides the truest accounting of the way memory can be a burden."
"Synopsis" by , Two 11-year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods. Only one comes out. The lie Celia tells to conceal her misdeed becomes the accepted truth, and when Celia returns to her hometown to confess the truth, her family and friends don't believe her.
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