Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review!!! Friends of Choice by Linda Nelson

Friends of Choice    by Linda Nelson
I thought the author had a nice and easy style of writing, good for young adults to follow.  The author also caught the main character’s teenage, whiney, angst against her mother true to life, as well when Karla, the main character, just wanted to get out of the new house.  The author hit the nail on the head with that one!  Great job!
I did enjoy that part because it is so true to life.
I did feel as if the book dragged out a little too long in places, such as the move Karla had to make because her parent’s decided to move to accommodate her father’s new job.  It just seemed to drag on a little too long, such as driving to the new house, the packing and unpacking at the old house then the new house, etc..
As Karla started at her new school the very next day after moving to her new house, she met a new friend named Carol, right away.  Carol was a popular girl, among the Jocks and Cheerleaders.  Karla, I think, felt special that she fit in so well with this crowd.  However, looking back, she did NOT fit in, as the other kids in the group pretty much just ignored Karla.  I felt the friendship thing with Carol dragged on a little long.  If that could be expanded on, explaining to us ‘more’ of what Carol was planning, it would have been good.  I was NOT expecting what happened at the end of the book to happen.
In my opinion, Karla really should have normally made other ‘new’ friends in other classes besides ‘just’ Carol outside.  Karla had other classes where she would have befriended other new friends, and this should have been expanded upon.  Someone, naturally, would have told Karla to be careful around Carol, as it sounded as if Carol had a reputation, and had done things to other new students who came to her school from the ‘rival school’, Karla’s old High School.  Karla didn’t have any idea just exactly what Carol had set her up for.  If Karla had made other friends in her other classes, which normally would have happened in other classes that Carol was NOT in, someone would have said something about CarolCarol, being so popular, would NOT have gone unknown as she would have had some type of reputation.  There had to be some talk of Carol’s reputation, especially since she was into drugs.  It seems when another teenager is into drugs, other teenagers in the school are aware of it.  This could have tipped Karla off at least a little bit if she had made more friends in the other classes.  This is where the book needs to be expanded upon.  We kept reading about how much Karla wanted to get out and go meet Carol here or there, or when Carol ignored Karla, and Karla’s feelings were hurt.  When that happened, Karla would have already made new friends she could have hung out with other than CarolCarol took up a large part of the book, too much.
This is where Young Adults will lose interest if a book doesn’t hold their interest long enough or explain situations enough.  I know when I was a teenager, if things were not moving long and fast enough, especially if I could not understand them, I would have put the book down.  Although, the move to the new house might have made me put the book down because it was so drawn out, as well as the friendship with Carol and no other new friends.
As I said in the previous paragraph, this is where Karla’s making new friends in her other classes should have come into play, and given Karla some ‘gut feeling’ that something was ‘off’ with Carol.  Details in this section of the book would have helped the reader understand more about ‘why’ Carol wanted to be friends with Karla so bad.  Karla was getting confused about this and a little worried about some of the things that Carol did right away.  Carol, and only Carol, took to Karla right away.  I was leery of Carol right away, and when a football player finds interest in Karla immediately, with just a smile; it seemed strange and to fast.  Football players like the popular girls.  Karla was not popular the first day of classes.  Carol was the ‘only’ one in this crowd that would give Karla the time of day.  Some of the other kids could have been brought in to this story instead of ‘just’ Carol.  It might have made more sense at the end if this were described a little better, especially with how the end ends.  We never hear from Carol in the book until the very end.
When Karla’s friends from her old high school and neighborhood came to spend the night, and the one girl mentioned her parent’s taught her to follow her gut with people and friends, I thought the author was going to go further with this and get Karla thinking more about these new friends and using her gut more, but she did not.  Karla did keep feeling a little uncomfortable about them, even to the point where she did not want her old friends to meet her new friend, Carol, afraid her old friends may not like her new friend.  That, right there, was her gut working.  The author should have expanded on this. 
The author used Karla’s ‘gut feelings’ nowhere  I think the author should have taken it somewhere to show that Karla did have more gut feelings about these so-called new friends, just like the friends she ‘chose’ from her old high school.  The book is called “Friends of Choice”, and perhaps Karla could have thought about the ‘choices’ of the friend’s she was making, especially when it came to Carol.  Carol was so quick, Karla didn’t even get to make a choice.  Carol made herself Karla’s friend.  Karla knew something was off because Carol was keeping Karla pretty much a secret.  Karla’s new friend’s friends having no interaction with Karla at all?
There was not enough exploration of ‘new’ friends for Karla in this book to be called “Friends of Choice”.  Karla did not get to make ‘Friends of Choice’, as they were made for her..  Carol seemed to take over and be ‘it’.  Again, if Karla had made more new friends, then I could see the name of the book fitting in more so than what it does now.  “IF” Karla had made other new friends, they would have warned her about Carol, and it would have made the book even more interesting about choosing friends.  Maybe some new friends could have given Karla a warning about some of the new friends because what happened was entirely unexpected.  It seemed as if it was mentioned anyone who came from the ‘rival high school’ had something done to them, but we are kept in the dark about exactly what.
What happened at the end of the book?  This really bad thing happens to Karla, she gets gang-raped, and now all of a sudden this book is all about Carol?  What about Karla?  What about Karla’s condition?  What about Karla’s parents?  Where are they?  We are left hanging terribly.  All we are told is we don’t know if she is going to make it?  Why such a turn-a-round in the book?  I can understand a small chapter on how Carol felt, ‘if’ Carol had talked earlier in the book, but she didn’t.  She had no voice until the very end of the book.  We should have been left with something about Karla and her condition.  Some type of a resolution,   but we were left completely hanging.  I do see there is a sequel coming from this book, so I hope it is mentioned, or the sequel sold with this first book, so we will get to learn something.
As I said in the beginning, the author does have a talent for making her words flow, even though they were a bit lengthy at times, but this book lacks in this story in several places leaving Karla with virtually no choice in making friends, having nothing to do with the title.  It leaves us, with no resolution in the end as to Karla’s condition.
As I said, I hope the books (the original and the sequel) come out together so the reader knows there is some type of resolution; more about Karla.  Otherwise, they will be just as confused as we are as to why the book reverts to Carol.
I received this book from the "Members Giveaway" at in exchange for a review!

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