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The False Friend

Average Rating 2.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

True Friendship

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 kne...
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 sees. She is convinced that after having a terrible argument with her best friend Djuna that she watched her run into the woods and fall into a hole. She also believes she left her there. She returns to her home town to find out if she was this terrible person. The only way to do this is to confess to her parents and her friends. The problems is no one believes her. They all believe that Djuna got into a car with a stranger and was never seen again. Who is right? Is it possible that things were so horrible that she has blocked out the truth? What is the truth?

This story kept me reading from beginning to end. I could not put it down. As Celia confronts her friends she learns that she was not what many of us would call a good friend. Why do people hang around those who bully them or put them down? Celia describe several arguments she'd had with her friend Djuna. It made me recall a time in high school when another of my friends and I were after the friendship of another girl. She would take turns having us over. One day I was her best friend and the next the other girl was. We would argue to the point that teachers would step into the hallway. The difference was I was just shy enough and lacked enough self confidence that I would do just about anything for her friendship.
Miss Goldberg has done an awesome job with her characters. She shows us the human side that is often lacking in a book. We see their flaws. We can identify with them. There is something here for everyone. This is one book that I will definitely recommend to all of my friends. I look forward to more work by this author.

posted by skstiles612 on July 24, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Don't bother

Don't waste your time. What a disappointment! The characters are not worth knowing and the writing is trivial and shallow.

posted by MillieKP on October 31, 2010

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  • Posted August 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Short but gripping

    Celia Durst was eleven years old when she lost her best friend Djuna to an abductor on the side of the road. Now she is thirty-two and heading home to tell the truth about what really happened that day. Unfortunately for her, this is not as simple as it sounds. Her other friends from that time don't believe her story, and not even her parents think her memory could have actually occurred. Add in a stale relationship with her long-time boyfriend and coming back to the place where she grew up is not going to be an easy trip.

    I read Myla Goldberg's Bee Season, but didn't fall in love with her writing until her second work of fiction, Wickett's Remedy. THE FALSE FRIEND a little depressing by comparison. The story is short and not a whole lot happens. I found it hard to swallow the fact that Celia still used the terms "Mommy" and "Daddy" at age 32, instead of the more adult versions like "Mom" or "Mother". Also, I never felt it was clear why Celia needed to go back and finally reveal the true events from her childhood. I liked that as a reader I wasn't entirely sure if Celia's memory could be trusted. However, there was still the same engaging writing style from Goldberg to keep me turning pages furiously. The way she interspersed Celia's memories into her daily life felt very real, the way memories spring up in true life. Plus, having the few moments from another point of view (boyfriend Huck) were a welcomed respite and helped to round out the characters. Perhaps I was just looking for more action.

    Overall Rating: 4 Stars

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    Disagree with bad reviews

    I disagree with all of the bad reviews for this book, particularly those stating that the book lacks a clear ending. I almost did not get the book based on the reviews, but was glad I decided to trust my gut feeling. The plot is realistic and believeable, and the characters well-developed and relateable. If you are looking for black and white fluff with a happily ever after then this book is not for you. However, if you possess some degree of literary genius, you will find this book resonating with you long after you read the final page.

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  • Posted October 19, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Do our minds change our memories to protect us?

    Doubleday Publishing
    Available Now

    Twenty years ago there was a group of highly competitive girls. There was an intensive game of tests, rewards and punishments. One day the girls decided to walk home, down a forbidden street. As they were walking two of the girls, who were arguing, veered off from the group and into the woods along the road, Celia and Djuna. What happened next depends on which girl you ask. One of the girls,who went into the woods, Djuna, did not come out of the woods. Celia tells the other girls and the police she was abducted and the other girls even recall seeing the car, but Celia was lying, Djuna fell into a hole and she walked away and left her there. Celia then blocked the entire thing from her memory.

    Twenty years have passed and Celia's memory of that afternoon has been recalled. She feels she cannot go forward in her life until she goes back and confronts her past. When she returns to her home town and reconnects with former friends and her parents and tries to discuss the situation no one believes her. The place where the incident happened in no longer a woods but has been developed into commercial buildings. If Djuna really had died there they would have found her body. Plus all the other girls remember the car that took Djuna away. Was Celia remembering things wrong?

    She also learns from her former friends that she was a really terrible friend especially to one of them that believes that instead of trying to own up to what she thought happened, Celia should be apologizing to her for all the terrible things she did to her growing up. While she was nice and sweet to some of her friends she was also a bully to others. She is shocked when the grown up Celia remembers the child Celia and the profound effect her actions along with Djuna's had on the others for the rest of their lives.

    This is a very complicated read with a lot of gray areas. It is not really a mystery, but a look into a problem kids today are facing way too often, bullying, and the effect it can have on children for a lifetime. This makes this book very current even as the lead character delves into her past. It examines bullying in a way that is easy to understand for the reader although the main character doesn't seem to get it. The story very slowly reaches the climax but I was conflicted on the ending. It felt like only part of the story was complete and left the reader wondering about the next step in all the character's lives. I will say this was a truly interesting read and that certain parts really tease your brain into thinking about our own memories. How exact is a person's memory? What outside influences change events in our lives from the way they actually happened to how we remember them, or do they have any effect at all? Do our minds change our memories to protect us from pain? This is definitely a psychological novel, not a thriller or a mystery but it will keep you thinking about it and even referring to it long after you read the last word.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author through Newman Communications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted October 17, 2010

    When we witness an event, do we really see it accurately?

    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 behavior and descent into drug addiction, making excuses for him until it is too late and he overdoses on drugs and is in a coma. Outwardly, the family presents a kind of Beaver Cleaver picture to the world and pretends to live it, but the reality is totally different.
    Trauma affects all of us differently. The way in which these fifth-grade girls react to and deal with a common tragedy, is explored two decades later as Celia tries to deal with her idea of the truth about the day that her best friend Djuna, (one of the five) disappears forever. Each of the characters has a different memory of the event. Celia, as she revisits her past, has to come to terms with the child she was and it is not the child she remembers. "Was she mean", she asks her brother, at one point. All of their memories seem to depend on how they handled the tragedy and, among other things, their interrelationships and the cruelties they inflicted upon each other. Leeann, one of the childhood friends, is a perfect example of the trompe l'oeil the book illuminates for us as to how we look at and interpret what we see. Is anything really what we think it is? They all witnessed the same event but each saw and remembered something different. Shame, guilt, abuse, lies, secrets and bullying have different consequences for each of the girls. Each views the event and their childhood differently, looking backward. One wonders at times, did the friends really know each other. Their relationships often felt shallow and undeveloped, cruel and too competitive. In so many instances, the inability of the characters to see what is really happening, then and now, shapes their lives. Many topics for discussion come up, i.e.: friendship, bullying, family abuse, the inability to communicate feelings properly, dysfunctional relationships and an inability to deal with circumstances beyond our control, are just some. As these are brought to the light of day, it is left to the reader to draw his/her own conclusions about the day of the disappearance. We never really learn whose interpretation of the event is accurate. Is Celia able to put her guilt to rest by confronting her idea of what happened? We are left wondering about what really did happen on that fateful day. We are wondering about the choices the girls made in adulthood. Each of us has to draw our own conclusion, in the end, for nothing is what it seems to be on the surface. Everyone is wearing some kind of a mask to hide behind and we have to discover who they really are and we are left to fill in the blanks, guessing. This book will make you think.

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