For Keeps

For Keeps

4.2 28
by Natasha Friend

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Josie's never met her dad, and that's fine with her. To Josie, Paul Tucci is just a guy who got her mom pregnant and then moved away. It all happened sixteen years ago, when Josie's mom was still a teenager herself. But now Paul Tucci is back in town, and Josie has to deal with not one but two men in her life - her father and her first boyfriend, who Josie fears


Josie's never met her dad, and that's fine with her. To Josie, Paul Tucci is just a guy who got her mom pregnant and then moved away. It all happened sixteen years ago, when Josie's mom was still a teenager herself. But now Paul Tucci is back in town, and Josie has to deal with not one but two men in her life - her father and her first boyfriend, who Josie fears will hurt her just like Paul hurt her mother.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Having been deserted by her father before she was born, Josie fears abandonment and heartbreak. Her mother fuels this fear with her own reluctance to pursue relationships. Luckily Josie's best friend, Liv, encourages her to make connections with her family and with the very cute and enigmatic Matt. When the parents of Josie's estranged father move back to the area, Josie forges a friendship with her grandfather that gives her some insight into her roots. A tragedy brings the truth about Josie's family to light and provides an unexpected opportunity to forge new relationships. Believable characters and smart dialogue make this story both memorable and entertaining. Fast-paced and full of little twists, Josie's story is a sweet and savvy coming-of-age tale. The story is only slightly marred by its unfortunately saccharine ending, in which everything conveniently works out for the best. Readers will root for Josie and Matt's budding romance, sympathize with the difficulties surrounding unconventional families and be inspired by Liv's honesty and quirkiness. Hopeful and endearing. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Publishers Weekly
Like the Gilmore Girls, the Gardner girls are close friends as well as mother and daughter. When she was 16, Kate dropped out of high school to give birth to Josie, while her high school sweetheart, Paul (the father), moved to Arizona with his family. Now, 16 years later, Paul's parents have returned, pushing the past back into the present. Although Josie has no desire to meet her father, fate intervenes and secrets are revealed to Josie and Kate about the circumstances of Josie's birth. Adding to the drama are new men in the lives of both Gardners, and a pregnancy scare for Josie's sassy best friend, Liv, which allow for additional discussions about teen pregnancy and safe sex. Josie's dry sense of humor (“Here I am, asking the question to end all questions... and this is what I get. My head is pounding. I need coffee”) helps balance out the heavier themes. Things wrap up a bit neatly and Josie tends toward the theatrical, but Friend (Bounce) weaves a strong story that should hook readers. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
This isn't just an issue-driven story. There is a real plot, filled with fast, immediate dialogue.
From the Publisher
Fast-paced and full of little twists, Josie+s story is a sweet and savvy coming-of-age tale. Hopeful and endearing." -Kirkus
Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
Josie finds herself becoming the mother as her mom reverts to a teen fantasy and a romance of her own. Because Josie has had her single mother to herself for sixteen years, sharing her with her mother's new romantic interest becomes problematic. Now that both mother and daughter have boyfriends, their family companionship becomes less involved. Josie wonders whether her new boyfriend will hurt her just like her father hurt her mother by leaving her to become a single parent. The dynamics of her paternal grandparent's return to town and the relationship of mother and daughter with their new romantic interests provide excellent conflict and resolutions throughout the story. It focuses on the issues of dating, teen pregnancy, and safe sex. These teen issues are similar to Friend's earlier books, Lush and Perfect. These two books address alcoholism and eating disorders. Each of the three books present issues about which teens need to be aware because these challenges face many adolescents. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
VOYA - Nikita Agrawal
For Keeps opens with Josie, an adolescent without—but not in search of—a father or boyfriend. As complications arise, however, Josie finds herself reluctantly accepting new truths and making new choices, changing her life and the way she lives it. Although characterization remains shallow and the plot predictable, Friend humorously captures the universal challenge of transitioning from youth to adulthood. Friend's tale is a great read for any early teenager! Reviewer: Nikita Agrawal, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Isabel Crevasse
Fun and engrossing, this novel is populated with surprisingly realistic, human characters. If Josie and Kate's relationship begins a bit too Gilmore Girls-ian, it quickly evolves into a real mother-daughter relationship, complete with frustration, tears, and awkward make-ups. Teens will recognize—and laugh at—Josie's perfect description of the "Makeup Mafia." Although not a new story, it is an enchanting read. Teens will have fun reading. Reviewer: Isabel Crevasse, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Lauri J. Vaughan
Josie Gardner and her single mother, Kate, have navigated through life without Josie's father, Paul Tucci, for the last sixteen years quite happily. Signs of his imminent arrival—specifically the return of Paul's elderly parents to the small town where Kate grew up and has raised Josie—are not particularly welcome. Enter Jonathan—Kate's first serious romance in years—to sufficiently refocus her attention just in time. Enter, also, Matt Rigsby—Josie's first serious romance ever. Equilibrium is short-lived in the Gardner household, however. Jonathan's presence is taking far more of her mother's time than Josie would like. Best friend Liv is not being terribly sympathetic—in fact, she thinks Josie's being selfish. The relationship with Matt is heating up, and what is she to do about grandfather Tucci—who does not know that he is a grandfather but enjoys showing up at the coffee shop where Josie works? Through Josie's snappy narration, Friend manages to make the reader feel like a regular at the coffee shop rather than a detached observer. The pacing is excellent, and sharp transitions keep the story moving. Friend artfully cloaks several somewhat-serious coming-of-age issues in the winsome adventures of Josie and Liv. Josie is forced to confront her feelings about the father she believes skipped out before she was born, as well as the assumptions about her parents' relationship. On the surface, this novel is a light teen read. Enough thoughtful moments will keep it on the radar long past when similar titles will have faded from memory. Reviewer: Lauri J. Vaughan
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Josie's junior year is more eventful than she had expected. While navigating her first serious romance, she must come to terms with the fact that her mother has a boyfriend for the first time in 16 years. Josie has never known her father, who moved out of state with his family before she was born. When her paternal grandparents move back into town, she has to face the possibility of meeting him. This fast-paced story takes many twists and turns as the teen discovers the truth behind her parents' separation and her father's absence. Josie is humorous and sincere as she narrates both her mother's struggle and her own to let go of the past and embrace new relationships. The book discusses sex and abortion, and includes adult language and underage drinking. Many readers will be able to relate to this protagonist, whose strength and maturity set a positive example. Friend skillfully portrays the challenges of adolescence while telling an engaging story with unique and genuine characters.—Erin Carrillo, formerly at Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Fast-paced and full of little twists, Josie+s story is a sweet and savvy coming-of-age tale. Hopeful and endearing." -Kirkus

Meet the Author

Natasha Friend was born to an English professor father and a poet/actress mother. She was raised in a house without a television. At the time, she thought this was the worst form of child abuse. Now, she understands the method to her parents’ madness: they wanted her to be a reader. Spending most of her childhood at the Hamilton Public Library, Natasha found her mecca, the young-adult section, and her hero, Judy Blume. She, too, wanted to write stories about girls who felt alone. Girls whose parents were screw-ups. Girls with spunk and spirit and resolve.

Natasha began dictating stories to her father, who typed them up on his 1930’s Remington typewriter. Most involved rainbows, unicorns, and poor orphan girls discovering treasure. She knew she was supposed to be a writer in seventh grade, when a sweet boy gave her a love poem and she felt compelled to correct it for syntax and rhyme scheme. Today, Natasha is the award-winning author of Perfect, Lush, Bounce, For Keeps, and My Life in Black and White. When she isn’t writing, she is building forts and making chocolate-chip pancakes. Natasha lives on the Connecticut shoreline with her husband, three children, and dog, Beckett.

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For Keeps 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Cougar_H More than 1 year ago
The story For Keeps by Natasha Friend is a book that tells a fresh, funny, and smart story about what happens when girl gets the guy of her dreams and a dad she never knew she needed. The main characters are a 16 year old girl named Josie, her strong, beautiful, and young mother Kate, and her unique and bold best friend Liv. The story takes place in the month of August before school starts and many months through out the school year. When Josie starts school her life is almost perfect, she has a job, a best friend, plays soccer, and has a wonderful mother. The only thing she doesn't have is the boy she has always wanted and a father. On the last friday of august before the new school year Josie and her mom Kate are at Shop-Co to get groceries when her mom sees her ex boyfriend from high school (also Josie's father)'s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tucci. During the book Josie finds love, her father and a lot more reasons to be happy. This book spoke to me as a person because I know if my father was not there for the first sixteen years of my life I probably would have acted the same way Josie did. I think the author's purpose of writing this book was to reach out to younger teenage readers like me and maybe try and relate to some of our stories. I think the moral of this story is to always be true to yourself and that everything will work out in the end. From this book i learned to be thank full for what I have, like my family, because some people don't have all that I do. If you are someone who likes to read about fun loving books and heartwarming stories, I recommend this book to you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book and it was sooo good that I read it 3 TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ITS OFFICIALLY MY FAVE BOOK OF ALL TIME! I LOVE ALL THE ROMANCE!!!! NATASHA FRIEND IS MY FAVE AUTHOR EVAAAAA!!!!!!! WISH I COULD GIVE IT................. INFINITY STARS!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book because of the cute moments between josie and her bf :P
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Natasha Friends books and when i read the sample of this book I was excited to buy it. Friend has written 4 books including this one, they are all unique. Many authors who write more than one book continue to keep the same trends but Natasha Friend has consistant new ideas that keep the reader interested. Books like Friends are the reason I actually read. Natasha Friend is helping millions of kids actually enjoy reading books and I just had to let you know how good of an author she really is!!!
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Riley Hughes More than 1 year ago
This was a good book! Gilmore Girls is my all time favorite tv show, so when i saw this book being compared to it i was so exicted! I was a little let down by this book but only because i excpeted to much!
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GilmoreGirlFanatic More than 1 year ago
When I read the first five words of the Publisher's review online below the book info I was a goner for this book. The first five words were "Just like the Gilmore Girls". I was sold right then and there on this book. To put it simply lets just say I am a Gilmore Girls FANATIC! So, if you like me are a crazy fan of GG pick up this book!!!
mkmtt More than 1 year ago
Its a good quick read. Some parts are ...sort of predictiable though. I still reccommend it. ;)
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
I was really excited to discover Natasha Friend was releasing a new book. Many of my students have enjoyed her other books: LUSH, BOUNCE, and PERFECT. Now that I've read FOR KEEPS, I know they will love this one, too. What happens when you think that sometimes you are more mature and in control than your mother? That's how Josie Gardner sometimes feels. She and her mother have made it through a lot together. Josie knows she was the product of a high school romance. She knows her dad's name was Paul Tucci and that he left town with his family not even knowing he was going to be a father. It never really made a difference until one day in the grocery store. Josie's mother suddenly ducks for cover in the pet-food aisle. What is going on? Kate Gardner appears to be a nervous wreck as she whispers to her daughter that Paul Tucci's parents are in the store. When Josie takes a peek at the couple headed for the checkout, she suddenly realizes they are her grandparents. Now it's a matter of calming down her frantic mother and finding out what they are doing here. The mystery is solved by Josie's best friend, Liv. With a little amateur sleuthing, Liv finds out that the Tucci's have moved back to town. When Josie tells her mother, she's surprised by Kate's sudden lack of interest. Josie doesn't think there will be a problem and probably not even any contact between them. It all changes when her boss turns his mediocre ice cream parlor into a thriving little pastry/coffee shop. Josie's grandfather, Big Nick Tucci, becomes a regular customer. Again, thanks to her talkative best friend, Josie learns that Paul is the youngest of the Tucci's three boys, and he remains unmarried, working with at-risk youth somewhere in the Carolinas. Filled with mixed emotions about the possible return of the side of her family she's never known, Josie faces further emotional upheaval when the popular and attractive Matt Rigby makes it known that he is interested in dating her. It's almost more than one girl can handle. Natasha Friend's fresh, straightforward style makes FOR KEEPS excellent reading entertainment. Her use of humor, down-to-earth characters, and heartfelt relationships will have her fans cheering and any new-comers clamoring for her earlier books. I'm glad to see this new arrival and will be eagerly awaiting more to come.
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