Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Review: The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

The False Friend

Years ago, I read and loved Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. I mean, who didn't, right? It was a gorgeous book - slow, dreamy, with what I recall as a gut-punch ending. Then Wickett's Remedy came out - and I just couldn't get interested in it, although I have no good reason for that, it's probably amazing and I should pick it up. But the False Friend hooked me back with its jacket blurb, its cover art, and the first few pages that I skimmed in the bookstore. I was so happy to find another lovely book from Goldberg, and now I really do need to go back and read Wickett's Remedy.

I always feel silly summarizing plots of books for people. I look back or think back a few days later and realize I forgot to mention some critical part of the story that would surely have sucked the person/people right in. So forgive me if you read the book after reading this review and think "She's so totally wrong." As I saw it, this book was about the way girls are mean to girls, it was about how we grow up and try desperately to leave our pasts behind but how things somehow manage to chase us and catch up, it's about whether memory can be trusted, and it's about relationships - boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, sister/brother, mother/daughter. There's a plot - complete with a bit of a mystery - but there are also characters and interweaving stories. It's just...splendid.

I know authors often have Google alerts set up about themselves. So hey, Myla, if you see this - first, I know someone who was in your writing group when you were writing Bee Season. Nifty. Second, I'm fairly certain that this book was set in a reimagined Binghamton, NY, and I just loved that. The street names were the same (Beeth-oven!), and you mentioned Spiedies. And since that's where I went for undergrad, I was extra charmed by the setting. 

It took me weeks to get through this book - my life kept taking me places other than curled up in bed with time to read, and there was too much going on in the story for me not to give it my full attention. But it was so worth it. Go read it.

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