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The False Friend

2.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,556 Ratings  ·  633 Reviews
From the bestselling author of Bee Season comes an astonishingly complex psychological drama with a simple setup: two eleven-year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods. Only one comes out . . .

Leaders of a mercurial clique of girls, Celia and Djuna reigned mercilessly over their three followers. One afternoon, they decided to walk home along a forb
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 01, 2015 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i love the words of myla goldberg.
and i love stories about childhood mysteries.
this is a quick one, but well worth it.

when i went to the "RIP, borders" sale, this was the only book in my head on my "look for it" list. and i saw it and squealed, and it helped to dispel the black cloud of gloom over the staff and other shoppers.

it did.

the basics: celia, at eleven, was best friends with a girl named djuna, with whom she had a volatile and competitive relationship. their gang was completed by three
Amanda J
Jan 25, 2011 Amanda J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda J by: BB Bookclub Members Choice Jan2011
This book failed on so many levels. The characters were one-dimentional and dull. I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to care about any of them. It seemed as if Goldberg tried to add something slightly unexpected to each of them (Celia - econonmist/poet, Huck -teacher/druggie, Becky - best friend/Hasidic Jew etc.), but unfortunately it only made them feel more contrived.

Adding to the artificial feel of the prose was the author's clunky way of switiching between past and present. I may have been for
Julie Ehlers
This novel is very strange and almost pointless. The main character, Celia, slowly realizes that she was a Mean Girl--a very mean girl--as a child, a fact she had apparently blocked out for 20 years. Somehow, we're evidently supposed to feel sorry for her for realizing this. The fact that she grew up in an economically depressed part of upstate New York (although she herself was middle-class) with somewhat repressed (but perfectly nice) parents is hammered home over and over and over again, as i ...more
Jul 05, 2011 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm honestly not sure why I keep reading Myla Goldberg, because I always start out with high hopes, and I'm always disappointed. The False Friend has a great concept. A girl is abducted, and twenty years later it returns to haunt the friend who let it happen. I bet it would have made a striking short story. But as a novel, as this novel, it just doesn't work.

First of all, dumping out a ton of quirks and details do not well rounded characters make. Every time I started getting into the rhythm of
Nov 17, 2010 Myla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Second book by Myla Goldberg, just to give her another chance, and disappointed again. There just isn't enough good stuff to make it worth reading. I kept reading not because I was compelled by the characters or the story, but just to see what happens. And what is with her idiot characters? Celia's live-in boyfriend is a high school teacher who's an occasional drug user, and that's just something that's part of him, she doesn't even consider leaving him for it. Very stupid. I can understand you ...more
Oct 21, 2010 Marta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first introduction to Goldberg. At first I was put off by her writing style. The book started off a bit too poetic and it seemed as if there were "big words" thrown into the story simply because they were "big words." It almost felt as if she was showing off her extensive vocabulary and it ended up throwing off the flow of the storytelling.

However, after looking past (or rather getting used to) the writing style I began to get enveloped in the story of 30-year-old Celia whose sudden
Feb 17, 2011 Kimber rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
I normally do not review books that I do not like simply because everyone's tastes are different and I would not want to discourage people from reading something simply because I did not like it. However, I was angry by the time I finished this book. I trudged through the thick, and sometimes incomprehensible prose because I was intrigued by the story. Several times after reading aloud to my husband passages of not only inconsequential but downright ridiculous usage of the English language, no d ...more
Apr 13, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-by-kate
[spoiler alert] Richard Russo describes this third novel by Myla Goldberg as “a riveting read, both compelling and richly satisfying.” Russo wrote Empire Falls, which I couldn’t put down, so I was inclined to trust his assessment. Yet having finished Friend, I wonder if Russo wasn’t acting a little like the false friend of Goldberg’s title, editorializing for convenience. The False Friend is based on a compelling premise: “I think, therefore I am is too vague. We are, because we remember.” This ...more
Bee Season, her debut novel, is on my list of Top 5 books of all time. I was drawn into each character and when it ended, I actually held my breath as I read the last page.
When I read Wickett's Remedy I was totally disappointed and not enthusiastic about reading anything more by Goldberg. However, I spied a copy off The False Friend at the library and decided to give her another chance. As with Wickett's Remedy, I never connected with any of the characters. I felt the main character lacked dept
Sep 27, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several little girls walk along a forbidden road, two of them leading the way. One child never returns. Twenty years later, one of those girls, Celia, sights a VW bug and is flooded with memories, with the lie she told, and decides it is time to make amends. If only she can get someone to believe her.

Although I first thought I was going to be reading a mystery and while a mystery is part of the story, it is secondary. This book is really about friendship, family, relationships. It is also about
Christina Wilder
Oh, this started so well.

A woman is suddenly and literally struck by the memory of what actually happened to her childhood friend and races home to spread the truth. No one believes her, and she starts to wonder if she can believe herself.

Fantastic, right?

The beginning and the epilogue are quite good, but what's in the's what brings the book down.

Something that will always annoy me as a reader is when an author describes unimportant things in tremendous detail. Celia returns to her
Terrible. Absolutely terrible. I so badly wanted to like this book, as I loved Goldberg's other audiobook, Wickett's Remedy, but this one was just a major disappointment in so many ways. The abrupt and incomplete ending was just the icing on a unpalatable cake. I recall feeling the same way when I finished "Bee Season" come to think of it.

What I love about Myla Goldberg is the enchanting combination of her exceptional ability to take an ordinary sentence and turn it into a virtual work of verbal
Nov 27, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Four stars for the amazing clarity Goldberg has to the behaviors of these adolescent girls at the center of this novel. The group dynamic is a familiar one- leader or leaders and the others at their mercy. Her descriptions of the viciousness and cruelty Djuna and Celia as an abetter hit hard. From daily "grades" on how a girl is dressed to pushing the boundaries of a walk in the woods these recounts make the reader take a look at their own experiences at that age of development when this treatme ...more
Apr 27, 2011 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I'm shocked by all the one- and two-star reviews of this book! A common complaint was the prose, which seemed jumbled and thick to some readers, crammed with "SAT words." While I enjoyed Goldberg's use of language, I wouldn't have found her style remarkable if I hadn't read the reviews here. More on prose later.

The story intrigued me. It's more about the unreliability of memory and the way our childhood shapes our adulthood than it is about finding answers to the mysteries established at the beg
Rachel Crooks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angela Simmons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cheryl Klein
Jan 03, 2011 Cheryl Klein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
When my best friend Bonnie and I were in fourth or fifth grade, we got shuttled off campus for GATE once a week, a baffling but fun reward for having scored well on some mysterious test back in second grade. Our mutual friend (and my former BFF) Stephanie was not in GATE. So what did Bonnie and I do? We invented an awesome girl from another school whom we’d befriended at GATE. Chonnie (as in Cheryl + Bonnie) was an amalgam of all that was cool in our ten-year-old minds, meaning she probably crim ...more
This was a solid 4.5 star read for me and I'm quite shocked to see the overall low score for this novel as well as the glut of bad reviews on the first page.

Celia Durst has returned to her childhood home after 20-odd years when "the sight of a vintage VW bug dredged Djuna Pearson from memory." She and Djuna were intense best frenemies whose relationship served as the centerpiece of a 5-girl clique. One day while walking in the woods, Djuna disappears. At the time, Celia claims she stepped into
Sandra Stiles
What is a friend? What does a friend look like and act like? How do we judge whether we are a true friend or not? What do we look for in a friend? These are questions we ask ourself from the time we first enter school.

After reading the summary of this book I knew I wanted to read it. The False Friend is the story of a young woman,Celia, who believes she is responsible for the disappearance of her childhood friend Djuna. She is remembering her childhood friendships and she doesn't like what she s
The premise of this book is amazing and I couldn't wait to delve into such a potentially rich story. I was expecting the psychological suspense of Gone Girl with the girl bullying of Atwood's Cat's Eye. While the bullying episodes were uncomfortably vivid, the book falls short in terms of Celia's exorcism of her past.

The endless, tedious descriptions drag the story along at a glacial pace. It reads more like a short story that has been stretched to book length. As a result, the main story gets b
Jane Brant
Flashback to your childhood...were you part of "in crowd" or one always looking in, but never quite meeting the requirements. Did one of your friends die during childhood or during their teen years? How many unresolved issues do you carry from your past? Can we ever really "go back"?

I appreciate this author's addressing the issues we all have to some extent about our past...especially the one of "bullying" within pre-teen/teen friendships...while this book has its flaws, the need to make "right
Mary Ronan Drew
Dec 19, 2010 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
A superb exploration of memory, lies, and point of view.

When I read a really good book I usually write this and that to remember on a Post-It note or two and I put a half dozen flags on the pages I want to go back to and re-read. I wish I could post a picture here of Myla Goldberg's most recent novel, The False Friend. It's almost smothered with Post-It notes and flags. I think the message is that I should re-read it immediately.

I can't figure out why Myla Goldberg hasn't been winning prizes an
I couldn't figure out if I loved this book or hated it. I disliked the main character but felt immensely sorry for her. I kind of wanted to punch her in the face several times in the course of the book.

Celia Durst is in her thirties and walking into work when she is assailed by an emerging childhood memory of the disappearance of her best friend Djuna Pearson. Djuna was abducted when the girls were eleven years old, taken while they were with three other girls walking in the woods. Celia saw Dju
Oct 17, 2010 thewanderingjew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short novel tickles the mind from the first page to the last. A childhood event impacts the lives of five young girlfriends and is investigated through the eyes of one of them, Celia.
She comes from a family that lives by rules and familial distance, painting a picture of relationships that don't exist. Her mom has her drinks, only at specific times, schedules her talks with her children, her dad must carry her luggage for her although riddled with arthritic pain. They ignore the son’s dark
Dec 06, 2010 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Usually, if I have a complaint with a book that has to do with editing, it is that it is overlong, redundant, in need of pruning, etc. Not so with The False Friend - it needs to be longer. Well, not just longer, it needs to be fleshed out more. Relationships are sketched in and the ending feels like someone came to the door and Ms. Goldberg said "Well, okay, I guess I will stop here" and then tacked on a little something extra as an unwieldy afterthought.

This was a frustrating book - the beginni
Catherine Sumner
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle Bouchor
Dec 16, 2010 Michelle Bouchor rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a pointless book! The idea of it made me pick it up, thinking we'd delve into something really good. But no, it was just too wordy (I know, I know) and I ended up skipping over paragraph after paragraph, just skimming them until I found words that caught me eye. I think the plot would've been a lot better had the writing explored more about the childhood of Celia. Spoiler alert.....when she went to speak with Leanne and ended up talking to her brother, I was taken aback by what a horrible c ...more
Linda Robinson
I'm confused. More often lately it's my muddled take, but there are a few layers of confusion applied liberally in this novel. Reminds me of a writing workshop exercise: put scenarios over here, characters over here and draw a line between with your eyes shut, then write a novel. Can't recommend anyone who has self-doubt about their ability to track a story read this book.
Linda Strong
Boring, boring, boring! I hate giving bad reviews. Just because I don't like it doesn't mean no one else will, either.

The premise was okay, I guess. A 30-year-old woman who has all kinds of issues wakes up one day and remembers that she probably killed a playmate 20 years ago. She then has this overwhelming urge to go back to her hometown and confess all.

I didn't like the characters ... the main character just didn't win me over. Her boyfriend was nothing but a Yes man. Her family was afraid of
I found this book interesting, but the writing rather jumpy. It felt disorienting to read. The part that was fascinating, is whether or not we can trust our memories, and how much they are shaded by our unconscious process. And how much unconscious process has a role in our everyday experiencing and relating. It is also curious to reflect on girl bullying, and how one sees oneself at present, when one has behaved badly as a teen. Looking back on one's life was a major theme in the tale, and one ...more
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Myla Goldberg is the bestselling author of Bee Season, Wickett's Remedy, and The False Friendas well as a children's book, Catching the Moon.
More about Myla Goldberg...

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“At this time on a weekday morning, the library was refuge to the retired, the unemployed, and the unemployable. ... 'I'm not always this gabby,' the librarian said. 'It's just so nice to talk to someone who isn't constructing a conspiracy theory or watching videos of home accidents on YouTube.” 3 likes
“The day's dashed hopes had temporarily reduced her to the childish presumption that someone she loved should, in return for that love, be able to read her mind.” 3 likes
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