Monday, November 07, 2011

Warm, Authentic Friend An Enjoyable Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Life's not going well for 16-year-old Henry "Hen" Birnbaum. First, his girlfriend dumps him. Then, she kicks him out of her band. And then, a year after she mysteriously vanished, Hen's older sister suddenly shows up. Which should, of course, be a happy occasion, except for the fact that Sarah won't say a word about where she's been or why she left. Maybe he shouldn't be, but Hen's angry at her, angry at his parents for not being angry with her, and really just kind of angry with all the lemons life's been pelting him with lately. At least he has Emma Wood, neurotic though his BFF may be.

Since Hen's got nothing else to do with his time (unless you count watching Behind the Music reruns with Emma), he turns his attention to solving the mystery of Sarah's disappearance. He's pretty sure all the answers lie with Sarah's college friend, Gabriel Stern. The 22-year-old bass player's hiding out in the East Village, keeping a low profile until whatever trouble he and Sarah stirred up blows over. Even when Hen agrees to take music lessons from Gabriel to help the fugitive "get his life back on track" (30), Gabriel refuses to talk. At least Hen's bass is improving, maybe even enough to win back his spot in the band. And in his ex-girlfriend's heart.

The funny thing is, the more Hen tries to recapture his old life, the less he really wants it. All the discoveries he's making during this, the worst summer he's ever experienced, are changing him. The question is: How much? And will he even recognize himself by the time it's over?

Friend Is Not A Verb by Daniel Ehrenhaft is a funny, warmhearted novel about friendship, family and finding truth in unexpected places. It's an entertaining, authentic read that will appeal to readers who want a novel that's not too light, not too dark, but a satisfying blend of both. Bottom line: I enjoyed it.

(Readalikes: Hm, I can't really think of anything. Can you?)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), depictions of underrage drinking and illegal drug use, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Friend Is Not A Verb from the generous folks at HarperTeen. Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. i haven't heard of this one before, but it sounds interesting and emotional. i'm in!

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