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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friends of Choice by Linda Nelson

Blurb: Karla's parents have sold the house and now she has to move. She hates the thought of moving to a new town. This will mean leaving her best friends behind. Her parents told her it was because of her Dad's job and Karla thinks they have not been fair to her. She wonders why she can't have a say in moving or where they are moving to. 

Reviewed by Dale:

This is a dark moral tale that provides a frank warning to unwary teens. In this case seventeen year old Karla Centen. Technically this story has a few challenges. There are a few loose sentences that a good editor or proof reader might help with. Chapter 20 was repeated as chapter 21, which seems like a very elementary editing mistake, i wonder why it hasn't been fixed nine moths after publication. Also as some other reviewers have pointed out the story doesn't have a lot of substance in the first few chapters. As a male I kept waiting for something to happen and it only did after two hundred pages. I almost felt as if the story was buying its time for the party scene at the end. I changed school many times as a youngster and I hated it. that gut wrenching feeling gnawing at your belly, the confusing sounds, different smells, so many new faces, classes and then the dreaded "Here's the new boy tell us about yourself" speech at the front of the class. Nelson could have brought those feelings flooding back, but failed to capitalise on the most significant part of the story prior to the ending. That and the relationship she had with her mother.

Typically, in a story we have characters and we develop our own feelings towards these characters. A good writer can make us love, hate loathe or adore the characters in their stories. With Karla I wasn't sure what to feel. She hated her mum, but the relationship on the page was quite shallow. Its like some things are barley hinted at, her mothers drinking for example, and other things Nelson almost bludgeons you with. (the girls snickering foreshadowing some sinister plan).

***Spoilers from here on***

I felt, I really felt for the poor girl when she was gang raped by a bunch of one dimensional characters we know nothing about. But what about her friend Carol? If she was such a whacked out junkie that all she cared about was her stash of drugs why wasn't that explored more over the length of the novel? Her actions seemed a little incongruous to me. Maybe that's how junkies really behave? The ending too was a little bit off. A reader wants an outcome. Carol got away scot free, as did the other three guys. I think another chapter could have worked here. Exploring Karla's return to school, facing her old friends and the consequences of the parties involved.

There is a moral here. I think we all know that misplaced trust and a desire to fit in as the new girl make someone an easy target. Is it a little heavy handed to warn teens off parties, alcohol and drugs with a pack rape, near fatal overdose and car accident? Maybe but I have kids too...

*** Spoilers end***

I guess the bigger question is what will teens take from this? Its all well and good how parents like me feel, but will the message get through?

It took me a long time to finish this book. Several weeks in fact. When i did finally finish it I was in two minds as to whether to review it or not. I'm still undecided about this one so I invite you to be the judge. If you do read it please leave your comments.

Format: eBook
Available from Smashwords
Link to Download: Here
Price: $0.99c (at time of review)  
Wordcount: 44,000 (appx)
Author: Linda Nelson

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