Molly K. (San Jose, CA)
Inside the Cootie Catcher
Twenty years ago, schoolmates Celia and Djuna nurtured a toxic alliance with each other and three other schoolmates, whom they controlled with acts of approval and contempt, meted out daily. One day, Celia followed Djuna into the woods, while the others remained behind. Djuna got into a passing car and was never seen again.
Now, Celia is a successful business woman living in Chicago with her long-term boyfriend, Huck. She remembers the incident clearly and knows that she lied to the authorities and to everyone else. Celia returns to her parents home, ready to confess to them, the police, and her schoolmates.
The premise of this book is enticing; a mystery to solve, childhood memories, family relationships, and the hope of redemption. I was prepared to read it in one sitting!
The book is beautifully written, and Myla Goldberg's descriptions of place and use of metaphor is superb. Still, Celia, Huck, and Celia's family never come to life, It isn't that I don't like them; I do. I just don't much care what happens to them. Their relationships remain static throughout, and there is no promise or hint of growth.
In the end, the story really belongs to the three schoolmates and their lives as adults.
I was happy to come to the last page.
Margaret M. (Troy, NY)
The False Friend
I did not like this book as much as I had hoped. The pacing dragged and the characters were not interesting to me. However, it was interesting to consider whether traumatic childhood memories are accurate and how events when we were children affect us as adults. And why, as adults, do we revert to childlike behavior when returning home to parents? I would not recommend this book to my book club but would to friends that I thought would like to give it a try.
Patricia M. (Highland Heights, OH)
The False Friend by Myla Goldberg
"The False Friend" explores what it is like to suddenly find that you need to revisit a tragedy of your past and as you try to explore what really happened you begin to find out who you were and that may come as something contrary to what you believed you were. As Celia revisits her past and looks up the people involved, she finds that things are not and were not what they seemed. Some of this is reminiscent of someone looking back at "Mean Girls" and wondering how it all happened.
Ms. Goldberg explores this topic with great insight and the reader begins to wonder what would happen if they went back to speak frankly to the friends they left behind. The book is thought provoking and well written.
Barbara F. (Saint Louis, MO)
We need to look at the past, just don't stare
Not only did I enjoy this book, I am haunted (in a pleasant way) with the unanswered questions. I like ambivalence, imbalance and ambiguity. If you enjoy reading about ordinary people involved in less than ordinary events you might just be haunted rather than frustrated when you turn the last page. Excellent for a book club choice with many topics ripe for exploration...bullying, inert parents, self doubt, stifling home towns.
Linda C. (Carlisle, MA)
The False Friend
Myla Goldberg captured my interest in the first pages of "The False Friend" as she brought me into a jolting and raw memory of an episode from the childhood of the main character, Celia. From there her story carried me through a very slow and painful reentry into the world of Celia's worst nightmare. Goldberg's ability to immerse me in some very mercurial childhood relationships while also bringing me home to reenter the relationships with Celia's parents and boyfriend shows her strength as a writer in making the reader share intimately in her relationships. Life is not always what it seems is an apt wrap up to her intense exploration to find a deep truth. It was a compelling story!
Julie D. (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)
Wanted to like it....
After reading the description of this book, I thought it would be great. I loved how it started and then it seems as nothing really happened in the story. I kept waiting and still nothing. The characters didn't really interest me either. Sorry to say this wasn't a great book for me.
Melissa H. (McKees Rocks, PA)
While I appreciated Myla Goldberg's beautiful prose and lyrical, descriptive writing I felt this book didn't live up to my expectations. Expectations garnered from the book jacket as well as my reading of Goldberg's other works. For me the characters fell flat and were either one dimensional or simply unrealistic. The suspense of the psychological drama was attempted but never materialized and the ending was sadly dissatisfying.