Chachic's Reviews > Life Without Friends

Life Without Friends by Ellen Emerson White
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May 11, 12

bookshelves: physical-owned-copies
Read from April 26 to May 03, 2012

Originally posted here

It seems fitting to review an Ellen Emerson White title for Retro Friday because it was Angie who first introduced me to this author. Life Without Friends is a sequel to Friends for Life. I believe both titles are out of print and sadly, I wasn't able to get a used copy of Friends for Life. I don't think it matters though because I enjoyed reading Life Without Friends even if I haven't read its companion novel. I hope those titles aren't too confusing!

Beverly has been through so much - she dated a guy who was involved in a lot of drugs and was part of the wrong crowd in school. To cope with the horror of the past year, Beverly has decided that it's better for her to avoid everyone and keep to herself. Her father requires her to attend weekly psychiatrist sessions but even during those private moments, Beverly is afraid to open up. Poor Beverly! I really felt bad for her at the start of the novel. The title of the book - Life Without Friends - seemed really appropriate for her because she didn't have any friends that she could turn to. I can't imagine what that must have been like for her. Here's a fairly spoiler-free snippet from early on:

"Alone again, Beverly relaxed somewhat. It was hard to believe that life could get any worse than this. More than once lately, she had thought about killing herself, erasing the fact that she had ever existed. It would be so easy, so—except that she wouldn’t. She didn’t respect people who committed suicide."


It's a good thing Derek unexpectedly appears in Beverly's life and he's determined to be friends with her. I think Derek is really a great guy - he's thoughtful, friendly and does his best to make Beverly laugh. A tentative kind of relationship forms between these two. Derek is hesitant because he's worried that he's not good enough for Beverly, while Beverly doesn't want Derek to know the horrible things that happened in her school. This book reminded me a bit of the Love Stories series published by Bantam Books and I devoured those when I was a teen. I think the romance in this novel is really sweet but Life Without Friends is more than just a love story. It's about Beverly coming to terms with everything bad that happened in her life - from her mother passing away five years before to her getting involved with the worst kind of guy. I also enjoyed watching Beverly interact with the people in her life - her father, her stepmother, her younger brother and even her psychiatrist. I found the conversations during her weekly psych sessions funny. Sometimes, it's nice to read something like this and remember a time when we didn't have cellphones or the internet. Beverly reminded me so much of Meg from the same author's President's Daughter series - both of them intelligent young women experiencing difficult times in their lives. I kind of wish they got to meet in the last Long May She Reign. I'm hoping that Ellen Emerson White will release another book soon, I'd love to check it out if that happens.
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Quotes Chachic Liked

Ellen Emerson White
“Alone again, Beverly relaxed somewhat. It was hard to believe that life could get any worse than this. More than once lately, she had thought about killing herself, erasing the fact that she had ever existed. It would be so easy, so—except that she wouldn’t. She didn’t respect people who committed suicide.”
Ellen Emerson White, Life Without Friends

Ellen Emerson White
“It really wasn't fair. Why did guys have to be such jerks?”
Ellen Emerson White, Life Without Friends


Reading Progress

05/01/2012 page 29
11.0% "Oh wow, Beverly has been through so much. Poor girl!"
05/01/2012 page 29
11.0% "Oh wow, Beverly has been through so much. Poor girl!"
05/01/2012 page 99
39.0% ""It really wasn't fair. Why did guys have to be such jerks?" I don't know either, Beverly. :P"
05/02/2012 page 178
70.0% ""She didn't say anything, realizing something - maybe for the first time. She already knew that if she did tell him everything, he would never speak to her again, but - inevitably - if she didn't talk to him, the same thing was going to happen.""

Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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Beth Yay, you got it! I really liked this one (as much as you can like a book that's essentially very sad).


Chachic Yep, I got my Better World Books order! The title says it all, doesn't it? It looks like it's going to be a sad book. Maybe I should read Romance is a Wonderful Thing first? Although I'm thinking of reading that for Valentine's. :)


Beth It's a really good Valentine's Day book, actually, so that's a good idea. (Romance is a Wonderful Thing, I mean, not Life without Friends. Poor Beverly. There's a shoutout to her in Long May She Reign!)


Chachic Okay, I'll read it when Valentine's Day rolls around. :) I think I remember that shout out, was that when Susan was on the phone and she mentioned something like, "How's Derek and Beverly?" Not really sure.


Beth Yup, pretty much :) It was such a coming-full-circle moment.


Chachic I figured those were characters from her other books. I wonder when she's going to come out with a new book?


Beth I found the Publishers Weekly review of Long May She Reign a while ago, and it said that she was working on a fifth book, possibly from someone else's point of view. But that was in 2007, so I don't know what's happening now :(


Chachic I know, I saw something similar in an interview. She mentioned that she's thinking of writing the next one from someone else's point of view. I hope it's Preston's! Long May She Reign came out 20 years after Long Live the Queen, right? So we have a couple more years to go. LOL.


Angie Wait. WAIT. Chachic, what are you doing to my emotions?! You are reading Life Without Friends. *quietly has a fit of the vapors*


Chachic Angie! I don't know why I missed your comment. Yes, I started on this because I wanted to pace myself in reading Northlander for the readalong with Michelle. I've only read the first chapter though. :P


Angie Okay. That's fine. That's just fine. Keep me POSTED.


Chachic Okay, don't worry. I'll update my Goodreads status to keep you posted. :P


message 13: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth I LOVE THIS ONE :D

Beverly is mentioned in Long May She Reign! Did you notice? Susan's on the phone with someone right after the "who Susan is" story breaks and asks about Derek.


Angie I adore that scene.


message 15: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth Same. It is so realistic it's a bit frightening. Like watching a potential derailment.


Chachic Beth, why am I not surprised that you're a big fan of Ellen Emerson White's writing? :P Maybe your username has something to do with it? Yep, I remember that scene. I kind of wish it was Beverly who went to Williams instead of Susan though.


message 17: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth Ha, Chachic :D I love it when people get the username.


message 18: by Hallie (new)

Hallie Is that line about Beverly's not 'respecting' people who commit suicide ever challenged in any way? I mean, I get that it's the character's feeling rather than the narrator's/author's, but it's still quite worrying.


Chachic Hallie, I wouldn't know. I don't know much about those kinds of things.


message 20: by Hallie (new)

Hallie Chachic wrote: "Hallie, I wouldn't know. I don't know much about those kinds of things."

Okay, thanks. It's just worrying because a lot of people honestly don't respect those with the types of mental illnesses that can lead to suicide, without having any understanding of mental illness. The authors who may not have first-hand experience but refuse to accept the casual stereotyping and prejudice so prevalent in society are truly wonderful.


message 21: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth Hallie - I never got the impression that it was the author thinking that as much as the character thinking that. That could just be how I read it, but I'll try to reread the book this weekend.


Chachic Me too, I got the feeling it was Beverly as a character who felt that way and not the author. I was thinking that the author wanted the reader to know that Beverly thought about suicide but never really considered it as a serious option.


message 23: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth Hallie, I just finished rereading this one, and I think Beverly's comments about suicide were a reaction to her mother's suicide, and Beverly's anger at being left alone. Not the author's misunderstanding of what might drive a person to suicide.


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