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Lush

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Overview

Natasha Friend is a Judy Blume for today — clearly evident in this remarkable new novel about a girl whose father is an alcoholic and how she and her family learn to deal with it.

It's hard to be a 13-yr-old girl. But it's even harder when your father's a drunk. It adds an extra layer to everything — your family's reactions to things, the people you're willing to bring home, the way you see yourself and the world. For Samantha, it's something that's been going on for so long ...

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Lush

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Overview

Natasha Friend is a Judy Blume for today — clearly evident in this remarkable new novel about a girl whose father is an alcoholic and how she and her family learn to deal with it.

It's hard to be a 13-yr-old girl. But it's even harder when your father's a drunk. It adds an extra layer to everything — your family's reactions to things, the people you're willing to bring home, the way you see yourself and the world. For Samantha, it's something that's been going on for so long that she's almost used to it. Only, you never get used to it. Especially when it starts to get worse...

A bold, honest Scholastic Press debut from Natasha Friend.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In her debut, Perfect, Natasha Friend probed teen angst and denial. Her second novel, Lush, invites us into the life of a 13-year-old girl forced to cope daily with her father's alcoholism. Young Samantha's ugly family secret isn't her only problem, though: Her mother seems more interested in achieving yogic tranquility than in dealing with family problems; her gym teacher views her as a menace; and, oh yes, her boobs won't stop growing. This arresting novel of adolescence will touch a chord in troubled teens.
From the Publisher
Kirkus
After years of pretending she has a “normal” family, a worried teen finally confronts her father's alcoholism. Thirteen-year-old Samantha knows her father has a drinking problem, but her parents seem oblivious. Sam's father makes empty promises to stop drinking while her mother immerses herself in yoga classes, defending her husband as a “good man.” Although Sam carefully camouflages the situation by inviting friends over only when her father's away, his binges are getting worse and she's afraid he will lose control. Desperate to confide in someone other than her friends, Sam leaves notes in the library asking for advice from an older girl she doesn't really know. When her drunken father injures her little brother and the family's future is jeopardized, Sam must deal with anger and uncertainty as she makes some surprising discoveries about her family, her friends and herself. Sam comes across as a savvy as well as naïve teen who tells her own story with humor, honesty and hope. Realistic family drama. (Fiction. 12-15)

SLJ
To the outside world, 13-year-old Samantha's family seems perfectly happy. However, they are struggling to keep her architect father's alcoholism a secret, and the balancing act of enabling his addiction and protecting their image is becoming more and more difficult. Sam longs to be able to share her burden with a friend and reaches out by leaving an anonymous autobiographical letter in a library book. Her anger and frustration are palpable as she struggles with her love for her dad despite the fact that his promises to clean up never materialize. When Sam is chastised by her mother and grandmother for not believing in his ability to change, readers will sympathize with the injustice of her difficult situation. Yet, the author avoids a maudlin tone by infusing the plot with details of typical teen life, such as Sam's crush on an older boy and embarrassment at her developing body. Witty dialogue and smooth writing move the novel along at a clipped pace, and tension is successfully built and maintained as the teen's father's illness takes a dangerous turn, her budding relationship comes to a head, and her anonymous library pen pal is revealed. Despite the minor appearance of a stereotypical librarian, this is a perceptive novel featuring a likable protagonist to whom readers will easily relate. As in Perfect (Milkweed, 2004), Friend adroitly portrays a weighty topic with touches of humor and grace.–Rebecca M. Jones, Fort Myers-Lee County Library, FL

Booklist
Thirteen-year-old Samantha's father is an alcoholic–when he's sober, he's a great guy, but when he's drunk, he's scary and abusive. With her mother in denial and a 4-year-old brother to protect, Sam writes a note asking for advice and leaves it in the library, hoping an older girl she admires will write back to her. So begins a correspondence in which Sam opens up about her father's alcoholism, as well as her crush on an older boy. In turn, the letter writer, who goes only by initials, reveals some hard truths. As she did so well in Perfect (2005), Friend takes a teen problem and turns it into a believable, sensitive, character-driven story, with realistic dialogue. The cautiously optimistic ending works, because Friend has convinced readers that Sam can handle whatever happens. Friend, who clearly understands and empathizes with young teens, is a writer to watch. –Debbie Carton

Children's Literature - Marianne Mitchell
Samantha Gwynn is caught in an emotional tug-of-war, the kind far too many teens must face today. Her father is an alcoholic. Her mother seems to be in denial. Her little brother Luke is still innocent of life's complications. She is afraid to confide in her friends, not even when she has exciting news about a new boyfriend. Under pressure from so many directions, Sam takes the risky move of passing notes to a stranger, secretly tucked into a library book. The person who answers her notes becomes a mystery character, offering Sam challenges, warnings, and advice. The reader is privy to Sam's deepest feelings and fears. But when her father, in a drink-induced rage, seriously injures Luke, everyone is forced to speak out about the situation at home. Although the subject of the book is a heavy one, author Natasha Friend balances it with humor in scenes with Sam's little brother and her school friends. She keeps the pace lively with excellent writing and believable voices for each character. At the end of the book are resources for teens facing similar problems with alcoholism: Web sites, toll-free numbers, support groups, and further reading.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
The author of Perfect has turned to a dramatic story of a 13-year-old middle-class girl trying to cope with the fact that her father is an alcoholic. He is a successful architect, but when he is at home he is frequently drunk, and when he is drunk he is angry. Sam is so frustrated that her mother makes excuses and won't acknowledge the alcoholism—she is the classic enabler. Sam has friends, but she keeps her father's condition a secret from them. She used to be best friends with a neighborhood boy until she feels he betrayed her when he was part of a group of boys teasing her about her breasts. In desperation she writes notes to a stranger in the library, telling the truth about her family life; and she flirts with an older boy she meets in the library who is attracted to her. The author writes with great honesty about Sam's life, and this honesty will be appealing to younger YA readers. A crisis arises when Sam's father gets so drunk he seriously harms Sam's little brother. The little boy's hospitalization, the neighbors' reaching out to help, and Sam's night of horror, when she herself gets drunk and is nearly molested by the aforementioned older boy—these change everything in Sam's life. That stranger in the library who exchanges notes with her? An interesting twist to the plot! It all works as a realistic novel that expresses truths about living with an alcoholic parent, with confusion about secrets, trust, and self-esteem.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-To the outside world, 13-year-old Samantha's family seems perfectly happy. However, they are struggling to keep her architect father's alcoholism a secret, and the balancing act of enabling his addiction and protecting their image is becoming more and more difficult. Sam longs to be able to share her burden with a friend and reaches out by leaving an anonymous autobiographical letter in a library book. Her anger and frustration are palpable as she struggles with her love for her dad despite the fact that his promises to clean up never materialize. When Sam is chastised by her mother and grandmother for not believing in his ability to change, readers will sympathize with the injustice of her difficult situation. Yet, the author avoids a maudlin tone by infusing the plot with details of typical teen life, such as Sam's crush on an older boy and embarrassment at her developing body. Witty dialogue and smooth writing move the novel along at a clipped pace, and tension is successfully built and maintained as the teen's father's illness takes a dangerous turn, her budding relationship comes to a head, and her anonymous library pen pal is revealed. Despite the minor appearance of a stereotypical librarian, this is a perceptive novel featuring a likable protagonist to whom readers will easily relate. As in Perfect (Milkweed, 2004), Friend adroitly portrays a weighty topic with touches of humor and grace.-Rebecca M. Jones, Fort Myers-Lee County Library, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After years of pretending she has a "normal" family, a worried teen finally confronts her father's alcoholism. Thirteen-year-old Samantha knows her father has a drinking problem, but her parents seem oblivious. Sam's father makes empty promises to stop drinking while her mother immerses herself in yoga classes, defending her husband as a "good man." Although Sam carefully camouflages the situation by inviting friends over only when her father's away, his binges are getting worse and she's afraid he will lose control. Desperate to confide in someone other than her friends, Sam leaves notes in the library asking for advice from an older girl she doesn't really know. When her drunken father injures her little brother and the family's future is jeopardized, Sam must deal with anger and uncertainty as she makes some surprising discoveries about her family, her friends and herself. Sam comes across as a savvy as well as naive teen who tells her own story with humor, honesty and hope. Realistic family drama. (Fiction. 12-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439853460
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2006
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 550L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Award-winning author of Perfect, Natasha Friend was born in Norwich, New York. Upon receiving her B.A. in Psychology in 1994 from Bates College, Natasha went on to Clemson University to earn her M.A. in English in 1997. As a former camp director and English teacher, Natasha enjoys singing and song-lyric writing and plans to write more books in the future. Her first book, Perfect, poignantly probes the hushed struggles of body image, eating disorders, and grief. Perfect has won the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature and Book Sense’s Pick. When commenting on Perfect, Booklist wrote, “Friend elevates what could have been just another problem novel to a truly worthwhile read of great interest to many girls.”

Natasha’s newest title, Lush, boldly delves into the tumultuous life and mind of a thirteen-year-old girl whose father is an alcoholic. Samantha must cope with sadness, secrecy, and shame in addition to her own teenage trials. Just when Samantha’s skin toughens and emotions numb, it gets worse for her. Natasha wrote this book in an effort to spotlight the proverbial “elephant in the room,” so that its presence is acknowledged and removed.

Natasha currently resides in Connecticut with her husband, Erik, and sons, Jack and Ben.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 124 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(79)

4 Star

(31)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 125 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Lush

    Sam has always had a secret; her father is an alcoholic. This takes a major toll on her and her family as Sam tries to grow up as normally as possible. Her mother makes excuses for her Dad, and her little brother Luke is too young to help. So in a moment of desperation, Sam turns to a girl named Juliet who she always sees in the library, writing her an anonymous letter explaining her situation and asking for help. As the story progresses, Sam and "Juliet" exchange many notes in between pages 32 and 33 in The History of Modern Whaling. However, Sam also finds herself with another problem when an older boy from the library named Drew takes an interest in her. After lying to her friends and ditching their usual sleepover for a high school party, she gets herself into a lot of trouble with both her friends and herself. Things also get worse when her father, who was drunk, smashed a bottle in her brother Luke's face. She is constantly reminded of this by the stitches on his face from his nose to his ear. Her father goes to a rehab center called Shady Brook Farm to get help for his growing problem. This is a great book that has a surprise twist in the end that was great. She stays true to her insight and the story is written perfectly in the persona of a middle schooler. Any Natasha Friend fan will enjoy this book very much!
    ****PLEASE RATE THIS REVIEW****

    19 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2009

    I liked it,

    I liked this book but the thing with it was, it just ended. You never found out some stuff. It just left you hanging. But I liked the story overall, it wasn't bad I just wish the ending was different.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    Book

    Samantha has a secret;Her dads and alcoholic but he wont admit it.He has been hiding alcohol bottles all over the house.When her dad makes a mistake the whole family turns the oppisite of what they really are.Sams brother doesn't say much anymore and her mom is sad all the time.When Sam finally finds out who her secret note taker is she is very surprised...... This is a very good book so I hope you enjoy it!:)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2013

    The title of the book Is Lush by Natasha Friend. It¿s about this

    The title of the book Is Lush by Natasha Friend. It’s about this thirteen year girl whose father is an alcoholic and her mother is a yoga freak and thinks that everything in life can just be breathed out. She hides all her family problems and her real life from her best friends because she doesn’t want the girls to think different of her. I first met Samantha, the main character, as she watches as her father is passed out in a plate of lasagna. I chose this book because honestly it did not have very many pages and the words were sort of in a bigger text. When I started reading I discovered there was more to it behind the words. If I really had thought about it. I could kind of relate to Sam but it a total different way not alcohol but drugs. It destroyed her family just like mine. I would recommend this book because it keeps you wanting to read more, funny at times, and has a great meaning behind it all. There were some events that went on that shouldn’t for a thirteen year old girl, but that is life. I’d say it should be read by fifteen year olds and up. Lush was an amazing book but I believe it lacked in the very end. She did not connect us to what happened it just ended in a daze. I’d still rate it five stars if I had to. I gave great points and ideas to anyone who might be dealing with the same problems. It was basically a diary of Samantha’s life I think. She went through the drama, boys, and keeping her grades and friends up to point. There is a story behind everyone’s smile. In every dark room there is a light, just have to turn it on. People go through the rough to make them who they become. This book really packs a punch. I loved it!
    Destiny Brown 11/19/13

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    Kitkat101

    I read the first book perfect and it was great i will get this book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    What was this?! Amazing!

    I got this book after I read anither book by Natasha Friend, called BOUNCE. BOUNCE was absolutely amazing and I was very excited to read this one. It was a short read, but I think that the storyline was very good. When Samantha's dad always comes home and is drunk, she is very frusterated, and it soon becomes a handful. WHen He comes home and never remebers anything in the morning, Sam is very agitated,. Since Sam cannot tell any of her friends that hjer dad is drunk all the time, she picks a random person in the library to write notes to. The person gives her good advice and Sam goes to it for everything. One day Sam decides to go to a party with a highschooler, and it begins to get out of hand. He trys to it her and when she tells him that she is only a "chlid, " only thirteen he freaks out and leaves her. After she gets abducted by lamos from her class and she is pressured to do things she isn't. When she herself is drunk, Sam sees through her dads eyes. But then the unexpected happens and Sams dad hits her brother with a wine bottle she must euither go for help or protect her dad. What will she choose? read on to find out!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2009

    Lush-Natasha Friend

    I Really like the book and it was interesting! The book lush is a very good book the reason I like it so much is because some girls probably relate to this story. The story is about a girl named Samantha and her father is a drunk and when her father comes home drunk from work one night he hit Samantha's little brother Luke in the face with a glass beer bottle. A couple months after that Samantha's father was sent to a place that will help him quit drinking and Samantha's mother had to take extra care of Luke since the accident but Samantha's neighbor gave her mother sleeping pills that she took all the time if that wasn't enough when Samantha goes to school everyday the boys at the school would make fun of her and call her rude names and sometimes graffiti her locker. But..when its time to go get there father their all really quiet on there way then once they arrive home Sam imagines what will happen next.The book was pretty good, but I kind of felt sorry for Samantha because she got made fun of at school plus, when she came home she never new when her father would come stumbling in the door drunk.The book had a weird ending because after Samantha's father came home from the place to help him stop drinking. Samantha is sitting in the window sill imagining them all going out and building a snowman.Go get this book off the library shelf and read it NOW!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    Sam has a secret. Her dad is a swiller, a sot, a toper, a guzzler. Her dad is a lush. She has to navigate junior high, while at the same time keep things from falling apart at home. Watching her mother remain quiet while the family walks on eggshells around her father is driving her crazy. Luke, her four-year-old brother, is who she worries about most of all, though. He isn't old enough to read the signs. The signs of whether it's going to be a good day or a bad day. With no one to talk to, since she doesn't want anyone to know about her father - even her three very best friends - she decides to write a note, sharing all of her feelings, and give it to a total stranger. Sam makes the trip to the local public library several days a week in order to scout out just the right person. She sees a high school girl and decides to make her move. Sam folds the note and leaves it in the study carrel the girl always uses. Sam writes in the note that if she wants to write back, to leave her response in the book The History of Modern Whaling, catalog information 360.68 Ton, between pages thirty-two and thirty-three. Sam chose this book because it has been at least thirty years since someone has checked it out. She is sure the dust-covered book wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon. Someone does write back, though, but not who she expects. The two start a lengthy correspondence where Sam receives several pieces of advice until finally an incident occurs that leads the secret 'advice-giver' to set up a time for them to meet. Natasha Friend has written a touching novel centered around a strong female character. The cycle of emotional abuse that is associated with alcoholism seems to be realistically portrayed and comes full circle, ending with the healing process and what it takes for a family to survive a tragedy, heal, and stay together. **Reviewed by: Karin Perry

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2014

    AMAZING,,,,one of the best books ever

    AMAZING,,,,one of the best books ever

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    To mia

    Friday cant post so hes at dubliner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014

    Mia and isa and carie

    I am back are u here ~ty~

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Mia

    It was fun. Where the hell did you get the idea that we were dating?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    Great find

    I own the real book and i love it so far great for teens and preteens i love it :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Perfect

    This book is amazing nd i never wanted to put it down PLEASE READ

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This book lush,is ssooooooooo amazing and inspirational. Very many kids in the world are going through the same thing sam was going through and when they read that book, it gave them advice without them being too embarrased to ask. And for the person who said this book was horrible; i know its only an opinion, but thats hekka wack

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2013

    Good book by dejah

    That is a good book that is good for 5 stars

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Soo great

    This book is the best and its so relatable and enjoyable

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    BBEMBNF

    Best book ever made by natasha friend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2012

    Horrible

    Waste of time. Save your money

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012

    A great book!

    Great book. Great author. Thats all I have to say :)

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