karen's Reviews > The False Friend

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg
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's review
Apr 06, 2011

really liked it
Read on April 06, 2011

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 other girls who were clearly only satellites, "additions", background girls.

one day, djuna goes missing in the woods and celia tells everyone she saw her get into a stranger's car. twenty years later, she realizes "shit, i totally made that up! i saw her fall in a hole and vanish"

so, feeling intensely guilty, she returns home to confess to her parents, track down the other three girls, and come to terms with her memories, her lies, and her current troubles with her boyfriend.

but no one believes her.
it's complicated.
and she learns/remembers some things about her past that were better forgotten.

this is the second book i have read recently in which a central female character is blissfully unaware of what a bully she is/was. at least in this book, twenty years have passed in between and so it is more realistic that she would completely blank out her own behavior, but it makes me wonder and worry. was i a bully?? would i even know it if i was?? i mean, i know i am a little bit of a bossy bear now, but i don't think i am particularly bullyish. but it is food for thought. because kids are little monsters, and i was one of them. she puts it well:

the unadult mind is immune to logic or foresight, unschooled by consequence, and endowed with a biblical sense of justice.

yep. little emotional reactors turning every moment into the most important moment of all time and taking names...

but this has positive consequences, too:

what struck celia most about young children was the intensity of their passions, life too new to be modulated, perspective a possession not yet acquired. at that age friendship was a continuous present based on proximity and the shared fact of being alive. heartbreak and betrayal were commonplace, authentic and ardent each time, forgotten within moments.

she describes childhood very well. she also describes the return to the nest well.

celia was seduced by the simplicity of her relationship to her meal. it was too much food, really, a plate filled according to a mother's concern and not a daughter's appetite.

having just returned from a weekend "home," i am quite familiar with the parent/adult child dynamic. i am quite nostalgic as a result.

this was not ultimately the most convincing psychological study, but there was so much to enjoy in this book, i would recommend it. so i am.
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Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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message 1: by Michelle (new)

Michelle I want to know what really happened but it's not my kind of book

karen want me to whisper it to you?

message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle yes!

message 4: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Great review, Karen.

karen thank you!! you are the first to think so!!

message 6: by Stephen (new)

Stephen karen wrote: "thank you!! you are the first to think so!!"

I won't be the last.

karen i hope not. i don't remember bullying or being bullied. rhode island is the kindest state thanks to roger williams.

karen i was more like carrie

karen (:

message 10: by Greg (new)

Greg Karen, you are a bully.

karen oh, i'm sorry, i thought you wanted some of these brownies and candies.... no???

message 12: by Greg (new)

Greg I mean, Karen you are not a bully.

karen better.

message 14: by Nick (new)

Nick Black this sounds a lot like Flight of the Navigator!

karen hahah i forgot about that movie, and i was thinking of this one:


and i was like "no, it's not, fool!!"

message 16: by Praj (new)

Praj Wonderful review, Karen.

karen thank you!

message 18: by Alan (new)

Alan I was a bully, or rather part of a gang who bullied for a short period in my school life. It has always weighed heavily on me that I didn't do anything to stop it. The guy we bullied is my friend too and we 'made up' soon after (we weren't lovers or anything), and I still see him now and again now although we live at different ends of the country. (umm, I live in the middle of the country so that's not right).

It's still painful to remember what a crass and ridiculous and useless lump of shit I was.

karen kids are cruel and thoughtless creatures when they are in packs...

message 20: by Courtney (new)

Courtney I want to know what happened. Will someone please tell me!?

message 21: by billybob4858 (new)

billybob4858 woopi goldberg

message 22: by billybob4858 (new)

billybob4858 everything u know is evie the cleverbot on existor.com

message 23: by billybob4858 (new)

billybob4858 i used to rule the world

message 24: by billybob4858 (new)

billybob4858 ......feel the fear inmy enemies eyes listen as the crowd would sing now who would ever wanna be king oh oh here Jerusalem bells ah ringin roman callery quires are singing

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