Janet Schneider, Great Neck Library, NY
The Consequences of Bullying
In 'The False Friend', one morning on the way to her Chicago job Celia Dunst has a flashback to a tragic event 21 years earlier which resulted in the disappearance of her best friend Djuna Pearson. Galvanized by the need to confirm her long-repressed memories of the incident and her role in it, Celia searches for evidence in a visit back to her hometown in upstate New York. There the horrible truth about the Queen Bee-bullying behavior she participated in during her 11th year is revealed through Roshoman-style different perspectives from her family, childhood friends and Djuna’s mother.
How did the Celia at age 11 turn into the Celia at age 32? A gracefully-told story of gaining closure and facing hard truths, 'The False Friend' takes a thought-provoking and believable look at bullying behavior in young girls—at the consequences of trauma suffered by the target of bullying and also at the dynamics which lead to the behavior itself.
As the mother of two daughters now in their older teens, I was riveted by 'The False Friend'.
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.
Roni S. (Pittsburgh, PA)
The False Friend
The False Friend is a good psychological mystery. It is well written and I liked it better than Bee Season which is another book by Myla Goldberg.
The book deals with relationships - boyfriend, parents, and middle school friends from 20 years ago. It would be a good book for book groups. I was disappointed with the ending. However, once I reread the ending and concentrated on every word, I understood it better but still was disappointed.
Kim B. (Arlington, TX)
Didn't disappoint, but....
Based on the description of this book, and it's relatively short length, I had expected to devour it in one sitting. But I never really 'bonded' with the characters, even though I did like them. I rated this book a 4 because this might have been the wrong time for me to read such a book. The author did fascinate me with her exceptional prose; the kind that make you go back and reread a phrase, look up from the page and chew on it for a few minutes. If ever I have a rainy day with nothing to do I'd like to pull this book down and give it a second go.
Carrol Ann S. (Ventura, CA)
The False Friend
Definitely thought provoking, causing you to look back to your school years, analyzing friendships and events and their affect on the adult you. The beginning of the story drew you in, but I soon felt let down and even though I wanted to continue reading, I was in no rush, happy when the end was in sight. Celia's interaction with Mommy and Daddy made me sad for her. There were several welcome surprises in the tale. I'm glad I read the book and would recommend it to anyone with a diverse reading list. It would be great for a book club selection.
Mary S. (Bow, NH)
A good read
'The False Friend' is a well written book. The author's use of language is wonderful; the story is interesting. I rated the book "good" because I found the main character's rapport with her parents unrealistic - although that may be a style choice by the author. It would be a very good read for a book club as it will generate heated discussions.