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Life Without Friends

(Friends #2)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  374 ratings  ·  52 reviews
In this poignant coming-of-age story, 17-year-old Beverly puts her life back together with the help of a new and unlikely friend. From the author of bestselling The President's Daughter. "White has created a believable heroine kids will care about".--Publishers Weekly.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 1st 1988 by Scholastic (first published March 5th 1987)
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4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  374 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Anne Osterlund
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beverly can’t have friends. If she does, she might destroy them.
She knows this. After last year.
Everyone else knows it too.
Except Derek.
Derek is weird.
She pushes. And he . . . gets closer.
Which isn’t the plan.
There isn’t a plan. Beverly isn’t allowed to plan. Or dream. Or hope.
She isn’t allowed to have friends. Or to love.
The problem is she can’t explain that—at least not the reason behind it—to Derek.

Ellen Emmerson White’s Life Without Friends is one of my favorite contemporary novels. Mainly b
Melissa McShane
I was captivated from the first chapter of this book about a girl who does the unthinkable:
A murder trial. Well, actually it was a hearing. She had never been so terrified in her life—no wonder her stomach felt this way. Tim had given his best performance: all blond and muscular and clean-cut, too wholesome to have possibly committed murder. Except he had. Twice. And from the way he kept smiling over at her, the malicious smile that scared her even in the safety of a crowded courtroom, she knew
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To really get to the root of my Ellen Emerson White love we're gonna need to go back to the beginning. I must have been fourteen. I saw LIFE WITHOUT FRIENDS sitting faced out on the bookstore shelf and thank goodness for whichever prescient bookseller it was that faced it out because it was the cover that sold me. I would never have picked it up if all I'd seen was the spine. The title is, as my husband would (and has!) said, possibly the most depressing book title of all time. But the cover. I ...more
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
I reread this so often that I should probably attempt to write something about it.

Life Without Friends is an odd book to pick for a comfort read. It's about drug overdoses and a murder trial and - aptly enough - life without friends. It's about loneliness and painful personal history and bad choices. But it's also about learning to heal and to accept help, to talk to people, to face things head-on, and to trust. It's a slim volume, but it's not a simple read. It's grim and heartbreaking, but it'
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, ya, own
Ellen Emerson White's characters do seem to be very similar - girls from upper class Boston, who usually enjoy sports (typically tennis and skiing- in this case running), and are undoubtedly wicked smart - but each one is so different in her own way that I can't help but love them all. Beverly from Life Without Friends is no exception. Beverly hasn't exactly had an easy time of things, after her mother died, she's gone to live with her father, step-mother and 5-year-old step-brother Oliver who s ...more
Mar 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Young adult
What a great book, I think I read it a million times. All about a girl who gets involved with the wrong guy, and people die because of it. She's shattered, and has to live with her father and new step-family, after her mother's suicide. And of course, angry and tortured, she meets the most awesome guy who helps her heal. Great book, very insightful. Read it in early high school, it's not a long book at all, but it left it's mark.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect to like this much (teens and drugs and murder? Not my kind of book, really) but ended up being wowed by the terse, lucid prose and the clever and subtle way in which White shows the protagonist learning to let go of the past and forgive herself as well as others. The full review, where the book is compared with Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, is on the book battle page: (less)
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reread for the 2016 Book Battle. SO GOOD.

Read first in October 2014: 4.5 and can I grow up to be as strong and kind and just *right* as Beverly's step-mother please?
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 throu
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: YA lovers
I was a little biased, I'll admit, by the fact that it takes place in Boston, and that the main character lives in the same block of the same street where my good friend lived for many years, and that she spends a lot of time hanging out in the part of the Public Garden where I ate my lunch on every pleasant day. Her settings are very detailed, so I really felt like I was right there; I am reading another one of her books because it takes place in the small town where I went to college.

But this
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is kind of astounding how much better the sequel to Friends for Life was than its predecessor, like, I don't think I've ever seen such a dramatic leap in writing quality, kudos to EEW. This book had the compassion and depth I saw in The President's Daughter, where the other one seemed like a cheap murder mystery featuring cardboard cut-outs. Thankfully, reading the first isn't necessary to understanding the second. Glad I went ahead and read this one despite the former let-down. Really honest ...more
I liked this a lot. Beverly's journey was so well done. And HER STEP-MOTHER. <3

Derek's lucky I got past his intro, though. (view spoiler)
Aug 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really wish I would have read this book back in high school. But, better late than never. Glad I found it in the Young Adult Clearance section at Half Price Books for only $.25. Score!
JPL Youth Space
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An oldie but a goodie, I read and reread this book countless times. It spoke to me deeply. I never felt the urge to read the first one "Friends for Life", but you didn't need to in order to understand the story in this one. It's a quick, powerful read that any teen anywhere can relate to. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Miss Clark
Feb 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Miss Clark by: Angie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellen Sara
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book caught me by surprise. It was dated and I was thinking that the story and writing might be too. I was wrong it was wonderful. Beverly is coming off a hard year (the details of that year are written in a companion book to this novel, that I couldn't find, where she was a minor character) and finds herself at school without friends, under close watch by her dad and step mom and in therapy. Sh has closed herself off to people until she meets a handsome groundskeeper at the Public Gardens. ...more
Rants and Bants
I might give this another go, for a more detailed review because I honestly can't remember very, very much. It's been awhile, but what I do remember was that I enjoyed it better than "Friends For Life", and I'd kind of liked the dynamic between Beverly and Derek.

Also, the premise is completely appropriate for me, as I'm also the kind of person who at various points (including now for instance) decided to just not try to make any friends at all anymore, because you've just been abused or abandone
I enjoyed this book. It was originally published in 1987, and the pop culture references (A-Team, B.A. Baracus:), dated clothing styles, and several characters puffing away on cigarettes in public buildings every chance they got really illustrate the fact that this was more than 20 years ago. Still, the plot, characters, and themes remain fresh. This book is in my school library and contains the checkout card and pocket that were used prior to automation. Over the years, especially in the 80s an ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I've loved Life Without Friends for a long time, and I've read it so many times I lose track. I'm so happy to see similar reviews on here, because I don't know anybody else who has read this book or even heard of it. Life Without Friends follows Beverly Johnson, who is caught in the middle of a murder trial of her ex-boyfriend, who she knew was committing the crimes but too frightened to say anything. I love the theme of recovery in this book, as Beverly is withdrawn, angry, and suspicious of ot ...more
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I picked up a copy of Emerson's Life Without Friends when I was 14, loved it then, and love it now. Emerson doesn't "write down" to teens and this particular novel deals with some heavy interpersonal issues. The characters are so well-developed you barely notice (or mind) that nothing really happens in the book, as you're so focused on the developting relationship that is played out. Definitely recommended.

*This book is pretty difficult to find. There are a few copies on, etc. but Emer
Lady Susan
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Oh my. I really did like this book. I think Ellen Emerson White might just be a genius when it comes to writing dialog. Really brilliant dialog that made me laugh out loud. She does always surprise me with her grittiness--there is some swearing and the subject matter tends to be serious. Did people swear in the 80's? I guess they did. There are a couple of descriptions in the book that give away that it isn't quite "current" YA fiction: running in sweatpants with a sweat band and smoking with yo ...more
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: angst, downer, family, ya
I thought I hadn't read this, but about 20 pages in, I realized I definitely had. That didn't diminish my enjoyment at all, though after 25 years of reading EEW's writing, I do definitely recognize her heroine type, best exemplified in Meghan Powers. But this was still entertaining, and definitely one that I'll keep around.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, children-ya
A YA novel about a girl who feels exiled at her school because her boyfriend murdered two people and was ready to kill a third before she called the police on him. That's all before the book actually begins; the story is really about what her life is like afterwards. Pretty realistic. Wish she could have gotten her act together without the help of a boy(friend), though...
Marijo Kist
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
i love this book. Beverly made some bad decisions and people died, It it wasn't her fault but if only she had told someone. (Friends for Life). so now everyone hates her kids at school, teachers, maybe her dad but mostly herself. It is m u c h safer to have no friends. But that is easier said than done.
Sep 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to laaaaames by: Jasmine
It's really interesting reading old YA because it does sooo many things you wouldn't see in a book released this year. That said: strong characterization, believable growth and change, and a beautifully captured setting that made me want to catch the next plane to Boston.

P.S. I love the stepmom.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I picked this up for nostalgia's sake. I must have read it at least a few times back in the day because all these tiny details about it had stuck with me over the years. Anyway, the dude was a little more pushy nice guy than I remembered, and Beverly was a bit of a pain in the ass, but overall a decent reread.
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, nostalgia
I loved this book back in the day. I didn't know it was a sequel for a long time b/c my library didn't have the first one. I eventually caught on and inter library loaned the first one. It wasn't as good as this one.

Sept. 27, 2010: found a copy of this book at a library book sale. I could have screamed when I found it. I also found the book prior to this one. I was overjoyed.
Michelle Saracione
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book in middle school (I guess when it first came out) and it was the first book that I read from cover to cover without looking up. I don't even really remember what it was about, except the teen girl protagonist was depressed, smoked, saw a therapist, and hung out in a park. I think...? I was mesmerized... ;)
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Snarky and intense - kind of like high school. Not quite as gripping as her Meg Powers series, but a very satisfying read all the same. The source of all the conflict in the story didn't interest me that much, but the characters were all compelling and realistic - and hilarious.
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Ellen Emerson White is sooooo good. This book deals with the aftermath of Friends for Life (from another perspective). If you've been through a horrible traumatic situation, how do you pick up the pieces afterwards and keep living?
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This talented writer attended Tufts University (and published her first book, Friends for Life, while a senior there) and currently lives in New York City. Ms. White grew up in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Many of her novels feature characters who reside in or around Boston and are fans of the Boston Red Sox (as is Ms. White). In addition to novels, Ms. White has published several biographies. She ...more

Other books in the series

Friends (2 books)
  • Friends for Life (Friends, #1)
“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.” 3 likes
“It really wasn't fair. Why did guys have to be such jerks?” 2 likes
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