Publication Date: 11-1-2006
Publisher: Scholastic Paperback
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.
I can't begin to say enough good things about this novel. Samantha is a very mature and capable 13 year old girl. She understands that her Dad is an alcoholic and her Mom is an enabler. It takes a horrible accident with her 4-year old brother for a change to be made. Samantha is trying to navigate her way through middle school without having close friends. She has friends, but she can't tell them about her "family problems." She can't have sleepovers and risk her friends seeing her dad completely trashed.
This book points out a situation that many young people face. Alcoholism is not uncommon in this country, and happens more than we think. Friend writes in a way that that helps us relate to what Samantha is going through. If you're a girl, you know what it's like to be the first of your friends to get boobs. You know what it's like to make horrible choices regarding boys. You probably know what's it like to have your reputation battered and bruised by nothing of your own doing. It's tough being a teenage girl, but it's tough being a teenager in general. Samantha reaches out to a stranger, by the use of notes in a book at the library, to find someone to talk to. This person is a rock for her and helps her fight the battles she faces.