Friends Forever

Friends Forever

3.8 330
by Danielle Steel

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Five children meet on the first day of kindergarten. In the years that follow, they become friends and more than friends. Together, they will find strength, meet challenges, face life’s adventures, endure loss, face stark realities, and open their hearts. In this moving novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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Five children meet on the first day of kindergarten. In the years that follow, they become friends and more than friends. Together, they will find strength, meet challenges, face life’s adventures, endure loss, face stark realities, and open their hearts. In this moving novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel traces their unforgettable journey—full of tests and trials—as three boys and two girls discover the vital bonds that will last a lifetime.
Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy, and Sean—each bursting with their own personality, strikingly different looks and talents, in sports, science, and the arts. Each drawn by the magical spark of connection that happens to the young. At the exclusive Atwood School, on a bright September day, starting in kindergarten they become an inseparable group known to outsiders as the Big Five. In this rarefied world, five families grow closer, and five children bloom beside one another, unaware of the storms gathering around them.
As they turn from grade-schoolers to teenagers, seemingly perfect lives are buffeted by unraveling families, unfortunate missteps, and losses and victories great and small. And, one by one, they turn back to the Big Five to regain their footing and their steady course. But as they emerge from Atwood and enter the college years, the way forward is neither safe nor clear. As their lives separate and diverge, the challenges and risks become greater, the losses sharper, and the right paths harder to choose, in a journey of friendship, survival, and love.
In what may be her most intricate and emotionally powerful novel yet, Danielle Steel tells a heart-wrenching, ultimately triumphant story that spans decades, weaves together a vivid cast of characters, and captures the challenges we face in life—sometimes, if we’re lucky, with a friend forever by our side.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

On the first day of kindergarten, five youngsters meet. In the years to come, this quintet of two girls and three boys become not only close, but will be, they assure themselves, Best Friends Forever. What Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy, and Sean don't yet know, however, is how the strong riptides of life can pull people apart. Danielle Steel's ensemble novel draws us into the deep currents of friendships. A superb beach read; now in mass-market paperback and NOOK Book.

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Diversified Publishing
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Large Print
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6.14(w) x 9.04(h) x 0.98(d)

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Chapter 1

The admissions process to get into the Atwood School had eaten up six months of the previous winter, and driven each of the families nearly to distraction with open houses, meet and greets, intense interviews with the parents, sometimes two of them, and screenings of each child. Siblings had some preferential advantage, but each child was evaluated on their own merits, whether he or she had a sibling in the school or not. Atwood was one of the few coed private schools in San Francisco—most of the old established schools were single sex—and it was the only one that went from kindergarten through twelfth grade, making it highly desirable for families who didn’t want to go through the whole process again for either middle school or high school.

The admissions letters had come at the end of March, and had been anticipated with the same anxiety as an acceptance to Harvard or Yale. Some of the parents admitted that it was more than a little crazy, but they insisted it was worth it. They said Atwood was a fabulous school, which gave each child the individualized attention they needed, carried enormous social status (which they preferred not to acknowledge), and students who applied themselves in the high school usually went on to great colleges, many of them Ivy League. Getting a kid into Atwood was a major coup. There were roughly six hundred and fifty students, it was well located in Pacific Heights, and the ratio of teacher to students was excellent. And it provided career, college, and psychological support counseling to the students as part of the routine services it offered.

When the big day finally came for the new kindergarten class to enter the school, it was one of those rare, hot Indian summer September days in San Francisco, on the Wednesday after Labor Day. It had been over ninety degrees since Sunday, and in the low eighties at night. Such hot weather happened only once or twice a year, and everyone knew that as soon as the fog rolled in, and it would inevitably, the heat would be over, and it would be back to temperatures in the low sixties in the daytime, brisk chilly winds, and the low fifties at night.

Usually, Marilyn Norton loved the hot weather, but she was having a tough time with it, nine months pregnant, with her due date in two days. She was expecting her second child, another boy, and he was going to be a big one. She could hardly move in the heat, and her ankles and feet were so swollen that all she had been able to get her feet into were rubber flip-flops. She was wearing huge white shorts that were too tight on her now, and a white T-shirt of her husband’s that outlined her belly. She had nothing left to wear that still fit, but the baby would arrive soon. She was just glad that she had made it to the first day of school with Billy. He had been nervous about his new school, and she wanted to be there with him. His father, Larry, would have been with him, unless she’d been in labor, in which case their neighbor had promised to take him, but Billy wanted his mom with him on the first day, like all the other kids. So she was happy to be there, and Billy was holding tightly to her hand as they walked up to the modern, handsome school. The school had built a new building five years before, and it was heavily endowed by parents of current students, and the grateful parents of alums who had done well.

Billy glanced up at his mother with an anxious look as they approached the school. He was clutching a small football and was missing his two front teeth. They both had thick manes of curly red hair and wide smiles. Billy’s smile made her grin, he looked so cute without his front teeth. He was an adorable kid and had always been easy. He wanted to make everyone happy, he was sweet to her, and he loved pleasing his dad, and he knew the way to do that was to talk to Larry about sports. He remembered everything his father told him about every game. He was five, and for the past year he had said he wanted to play football for the 49ers one day. “That’s my boy!” Larry Norton always said proudly. He was obsessed with sports, football, baseball, and basketball. He played golf with his clients and tennis on the weekends. He worked out religiously every morning, and he encouraged his wife to do the same. She had a great body, when she wasn’t pregnant, and she’d played tennis with him until she got too big to run fast enough to hit the ball.

Marilyn was thirty years old and had met Larry when they both worked for the same insurance company eight years before when she got out of college. He was eight years older and a great-­looking guy. He had noticed her immediately, and teased her about her coppery red hair. Every woman in the place thought he was gorgeous and wanted to go out with him. Marilyn was the lucky winner, and they were married when she was twenty-four. She got pregnant with Billy very quickly, and had waited five years for their second baby. Larry was thrilled it was another boy, and they were going to name him Brian.

Larry had had a brief career in baseball, in the minor leagues. He had a legendary pitching arm, which everyone felt certain would get him to the major leagues. But a shattered elbow in a skiing accident had ended his future in baseball, and he had gone to work in insurance. He had been bitter about it at first, and had a tendency to drink too much, and flirt with women when he did. He always insisted it was just social drinking. He was the life of every party. And after Marilyn married him, he left the insurance company and went out on his own. He was a natural salesman, and had established a very successful insurance brokerage business, which afforded them a very comfortable lifestyle, and plenty of luxuries. They had bought a very handsome house in Pacific Heights, and Marilyn had never worked again. And Larry’s favorite clients were the professional major-league athletes who trusted him and were his mainstay now. At thirty-eight, he had a good reputation and a very solid business. He was still disappointed he wasn’t a pro ballplayer himself, but he readily admitted that he had a great life, a hot wife, and a son who would play ball professionally one day, if he had anything to do with it. Although his life had turned out differently than he planned, Larry Norton was a happy man. He hadn’t come to Billy’s first day of school because he was having breakfast with one of the 49ers that morning, to sell him more insurance. In cases like that, his clients always came first, particularly if they were stars. But very few of the other kids’ fathers had come to school, and Billy didn’t mind. His father had promised him an autographed football and some football cards from the player he was having breakfast with. Billy was thrilled, and content to go to school with just his mom.

The teacher at the door where the kindergarten filed in looked down at Billy with a warm smile, and he gave her a shy glance, still holding on to his mother’s hand. The teacher was pretty and young, with long blond hair. She looked like she was fresh out of college. Her name tag said that she was an assistant teacher and her name was Miss Pam. Billy was wearing a name tag too. And once in the building, Marilyn took him to his classroom, where a dozen children were already playing, and their classroom teacher greeted him immediately, and asked him if he’d like to leave his football in his cubby so his hands would be free to play. Her name was Miss June, and she was about Marilyn’s age.

Billy hesitated at the question and then shook his head. He was afraid someone would steal his football. Marilyn reassured him and encouraged him to do what the teacher said. She helped him find his cubby, in the row of open cubbyholes where other children had already left their possessions, and some sweaters. And when they went back into the classroom, Miss June suggested that he might like to play with the building blocks until the rest of his classmates arrived. He thought about it and looked at his mother, who gently nudged him to go.

“You like playing with building blocks at home,” she reminded him. “I’m not going anywhere. Why don’t you go play? I’ll be right here.” She pointed to a tiny chair, and with considerable difficulty lowered herself into it, thinking that it would take a crane to get her out of it again. And with that, Miss June walked Billy to the building blocks, and he got busy making a fort of some kind with the largest ones. He was a big boy, both tall and strong, which pleased his father. Larry could easily imagine him as a football player one day. He had made it Billy’s dream since he was old enough to talk, and his own dream for the boy, even before that, when he was born a strapping ten-pound baby. Billy was bigger than most children his age, but a gentle, loving child. He was never aggressive with other kids, and had made a great impression during his screening at Atwood. They had confirmed that he was not only well coordinated for his size, but also very bright. Marilyn still had trouble imagining that their second son would be as wonderful as Billy. He was the best. And he forgot about his mother as he got busy with the blocks, and she sat uncomfortably on the tiny chair and watched the other children who came in.

She noticed a dark-haired boy with big blue eyes arrive. He was shorter than Billy and wiry. And she saw that he had a small toy gun shoved into the waistband of his shorts, and a sheriff’s badge pinned to his shirt. She thought that toy guns weren’t allowed at school, but apparently it had escaped Miss Pam’s attention at the door, with so many children arriving at the same time. Sean was also with his mother, a pretty blond woman in jeans and a white T-shirt, a few years older than Marilyn. Like Billy, Sean was holding his mother’s hand, and a few minutes later he left her to play in the corner with the blocks too, as she watched him with a smile. Sean and Billy began playing side by side, helping themselves to the blocks, and paying no attention to each other.

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From the Hardcover edition.

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Friends Forever: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 330 reviews.
ktsmama_1990 More than 1 year ago
This was a "one-sitting" book for me. It was terribly sad, but also moving and, in the end, uplifting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read many of Danielle Steel's books over the years, and though I've always found her writing style to be very simplistic and redundant, I still enjoy her story lines, in spite of myself. I was very disappointed by Friends Forever. Though it was an easy read, it was unbelievably depressing, with an utmost pessimistic view on life. I haven't read one of her books quite as depressing since A Good Woman, which reminds me of Friends Forever in that throughout each book, I found myself anxiously awaiting for things to start turning around for the better in the heroines' lives. Depressing books such as these are such a major letdown to me because I personally seek books as a small means to escape the challenges of everyday life. As page after page was filled with endless sorrow, I kept thinking to myself, 'COME ON!!!' The only saving grace in Friends Forever was the fact that it had a happy ending. However, it was but a mere morsel of sugar after 200+ pages of pure melancholia.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didnt care for this book. Found it to be very depressing . Then the ending was like it was written in haste just to end the book. It never really had a lead up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible, Danielle needs to give up on writing! I have read every one of her books and at least the last 4-5 books are not good and a waste of my good money!! I keep telling myself not to buy another one of her books because she has lost her writing skills but I have read her for so long that its become a VERY bad habit!! Don't waste your money!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is totally depressing. I wish I would have never read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have read this author many times-but will stay away for a while-this book was just so very difficult to read-sad and life affirming.
Flagal49 More than 1 year ago
I did not care for this book at all. It starts out sweet but the rest of the book is very very depressing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the first chapter as a sample, so far so good. Very sweet beginning. I will purchase this definitely.
11bee More than 1 year ago
I have read just about every one of Danielle Steele's book and this one was not well written and kind of boring...
ConstableYoda More than 1 year ago
The book started out fun and interesting, then the bottom falls out. As a parent of a seventeen year old and ready to send him to college and out on his own, this book scared the hell out of me and I don't scare easy. The end of this book was so depressing that I didn't finish it and suggested to my wife that she probably would not want to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Understand the subject matter is darker than her usual "feel good love stories", but this was a huge disappointment for me. Title suggests life lasting friendships - turn to friends for everything - great "happily ever after" friends, NOT HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK!! Just a depressing read. NOT MY d.s. AT ALL!
HokiePeach More than 1 year ago
I love most of Danielle Steel's books, but this one was sad & confusing. Too many main characters to keep track of, and a few of the chapters were very discombobulated. I go to books to escape life, and this one just brought me down. She seems to have been in a sad place when writing this book....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was slow, depressing, and a waste to read. You have to wait for the last page for anything good to happen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is absolutely thee WORST Danielle Steele Book ever written. Murder, hit and run homicide, drug addicts, domestic violence, alcoholics, suicide -- need I say more. The plot was dismal, depressing and an offense to your loyal readers Danielle!!! I literally threw the book across the room in frustration after about the third character was killed off senselessly. What a waste of money and time to read this book!! I don't believe Danielle herself actually wrote this -- shame on her for allowing this book to go out under her name.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the most depressing book I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont normally write reviews but this book was terrible and a complete waste of money - and i love DS. She repeats herself over and over and there is very little detail with each story. She goes through almost 20 years way too fast with very little happening. Dont waste your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
booksonmynook More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. very well written. Good story line with likeable characters. One of fav
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very cute story perfect for people of all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read most of Danielle Steel's books and can definitely say I did not like this one at all! It's one thing for one main character to die...but four?? After a while it started getting ridiculous! Pretty weird to move your main characters along from kindergarten to college age in less than 200 pages! And even the ending didn't satisfy me. Hope the next one is a lot better...keep the sad stuff to a minimum, Danielle!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waste of Money. Totally boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read a number of books by DS. This was by far the worst i have ever read and written in a different style than the others i have read by her. Friends forever seemed to be written from the end looking back, all major happenings were foreshadowed so nothing was a surprise. It moves so quickly through their lives that i felt little attachment to the characters. This should have been a touching, moving book but it was not. It was written so poorly that even as "beloved" characters die tragically, i felt no emotion. A good book will make you laugh and cry and this book did neither. This will be the last DS book i purchase. This was so disappointingly bad and written so differently that i truly wonder if she has started using a ghost writer, a very poor one.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This was a sad book:( but a good one
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous 9 months ago
Beatiful story but will like diferent end or more of the story