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Lush Paperback – August 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–To the outside world, 13-year-old Samantha's family seems perfectly happy. However, they are struggling to keep her architect father's alcoholism a secret, and the balancing act of enabling his addiction and protecting their image is becoming more and more difficult. Sam longs to be able to share her burden with a friend and reaches out by leaving an anonymous autobiographical letter in a library book. Her anger and frustration are palpable as she struggles with her love for her dad despite the fact that his promises to clean up never materialize. When Sam is chastised by her mother and grandmother for not believing in his ability to change, readers will sympathize with the injustice of her difficult situation. Yet, the author avoids a maudlin tone by infusing the plot with details of typical teen life, such as Sam's crush on an older boy and embarrassment at her developing body. Witty dialogue and smooth writing move the novel along at a clipped pace, and tension is successfully built and maintained as the teen's father's illness takes a dangerous turn, her budding relationship comes to a head, and her anonymous library pen pal is revealed. Despite the minor appearance of a stereotypical librarian, this is a perceptive novel featuring a likable protagonist to whom readers will easily relate. As in Perfect (Milkweed, 2004), Friend adroitly portrays a weighty topic with touches of humor and grace.–Rebecca M. Jones, Fort Myers-Lee County Library, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Thirteen-year-old Samantha's father is an alcoholic. When he is sober, he is a great guy, but when he is drunk, he is scary and abusive. With her mother in denial and a four-year-old brother to protect, Sam writes a note asking for advice and leaves it in the library, hoping an older girl she admires will write back to her. So begins a correspondence in which Sam opens up about her father's alcoholism as well as her crush on an older boy. In return, the letter writer, who goes only by initials, reveals some hard truths. As she did in Perfect (2005), Friend adeptly takes a teen problem and turns it into a believable, sensitive, character-driven story, with realistic dialogue. The cautiously optimistic ending works because Friend has convinced readers that Sam can handle whatever happens. Friend, who clearly understands and empathizes with young teens, is a writer to watch. Debbie Carton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439853478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439853477
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Natasha Friend was born to an English professor father and a poet/actress mother. She was raised in a house without a television. At the time, she thought this was the worst form of child abuse. Now, she understands the method to her parents' madness: they wanted her to be a reader.

Spending most of her childhood at the Hamilton Public Library, Natasha found her mecca, the young-adult section, and her hero, Judy Blume. She, too, wanted to write stories about girls who felt alone. Girls whose parents were screw-ups. Girls with spunk and spirit and resolve.

Natasha began dictating stories to her father, who typed them up on his 1930's Remington typewriter. Most involved rainbows, unicorns, and poor orphan girls discovering treasure.

She knew she was supposed to be a writer in seventh grade, when a sweet boy gave her a love poem and she felt compelled to correct it for syntax and rhyme scheme.

Today, Natasha is the award-winning author of Perfect, Lush, Bounce, For Keeps, and My Life in Black and White.

When she isn't writing, she is building forts and making chocolate-chip pancakes.

Natasha lives on the Connecticut shoreline with her husband, three children, and dog, Beckett.

Visit her at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michelaneous by Michele on October 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It's interesting how this book came into my hands. My sixth-grade daughter put it there. We spent some time in the bookstore together and she, as usual, picked out half a dozen books. I picked one and it was a loser. So, she offered me, "Lush" by Natasha Friend. I read it in just over an hour, mostly because I couldn't put it down. I will pass it on to her, with only a slight reservation about some youthful /immature sexual references, which, unfortunately, will cross her path one of these days in spite of anything I do or don't do/say.

This is the simple and well-written story of Samantha "Sam" Gwynn, a typical, suburban teenager. She's in eighth grade and on the verge of . . . everything. As if dealing with hormones popping all around her at school weren't enough to manage, at home she tries to cope with her father's drinking problem, her mother the enabling yoga freak, and her adorable little brother, Luke. She's feuding with her neighbor, Charlie Parker, believing he stole her bra and charged his buddies a buck to view it, and she develops a crush on a popular high school boy. Sam has friends (a fun and believable trio of girls from school), but she needs a confidant--someone to whom she can express her fears about her father's drinking. She sets her sights on a redheaded girl in the library named Juliet and composes a letter to her.

"My dad is what you would call a big drinker (which really equals a big alcoholic--I have done my research)," she writes. Sam leaves the first note with instructions to reply by leaving a note in an obscure book called "The History of Modern Whaling." Thus, an entertaining and mysterious correspondence ensues. As the story unfolds, Sam's humor and intelligence shines through.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The squeal to Perfect, Lush by Natasha Friend could be read from anyone 5th grade to 8th grade. This teaches teens or going on teens a very important lesson.

Lush is about a headstrong girl named Sam who has a huge problem on her hands. Her dad is an alcoholic. So when she doesn't know what to do or who to ask she goes to a random girl in the library that she barley knows, and tells her everything About her dad her little brother and the cute boy in the green hat named Drew. But when her little brother gets sent to the hospital and Sam gets invited to a cool senior party by Drew everything goes down hill. So now her only person she can really trust is the random girl at the library. So when Sam goes to this cool senior party Sam gets drunk and for Drew, well he forces Sam to do stuff that she doesn't really want to do. So them she turns to her best friends when they won't even talk to her because she has been keeping all these secrets from them. Could Sam's life get any worse?

Readers will be hooked by its creative wording and amazing characters. This is Natasha Friends best work yet.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on November 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sam has a secret. Her dad is a swiller, a sot, a toper, a guzzler. Her dad is a lush. She has to navigate junior high, while at the same time keep things from falling apart at home. Watching her mother remain quiet while the family walks on eggshells around her father is driving her crazy. Luke, her four-year-old brother, is who she worries about most of all, though. He isn't old enough to read the signs. The signs of whether it's going to be a good day or a bad day.

With no one to talk to, since she doesn't want anyone to know about her father - even her three very best friends - she decides to write a note, sharing all of her feelings, and give it to a total stranger. Sam makes the trip to the local public library several days a week in order to scout out just the right person. She sees a high school girl and decides to make her move.

Sam folds the note and leaves it in the study carrel the girl always uses. Sam writes in the note that if she wants to write back, to leave her response in the book The History of Modern Whaling, catalog information 360.68 Ton, between pages thirty-two and thirty-three. Sam chose this book because it has been at least thirty years since someone has checked it out. She is sure the dust-covered book wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.

Someone does write back, though, but not who she expects. The two start a lengthy correspondence where Sam receives several pieces of advice until finally an incident occurs that leads the secret "advice-giver" to set up a time for them to meet.

Natasha Friend has written a touching novel centered around a strong female character. The cycle of emotional abuse that is associated with alcoholism seems to be realistically portrayed and comes full circle, ending with the healing process and what it takes for a family to survive a tragedy, heal, and stay together.

Reviewed by: Karin Perry
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Samantha Gwynn has a very big secret in the book "Lush" by Natasha Friend. Her dad is an alcoholic and if that isn't enough, she has to deal with 8th grade boys at school and drama between friends. Sam's mom feels practicing yoga will heal their family's problems. As you can probably assume, that doesn't go accordingly. Sam's mom is out every night searching for her dad at random bars or clubs. The whole family never knows what to expect when he comes home except to be ready. After a wild night out, Sam's dad swears his problem is over and he will never drink again, so he says. For maybe a split second, Sam believes him. Of course, his problem only got worse. He was becoming a better liar and finding more places to hide his stash. Eventually, her family checks him into a rehab center after brutally attacking Sam's little brother Luke. While not wanting her friends to know about her family's issues, she finds a random stranger in the library and writes her a letter, in hopes, that she will write back with advice. Although at the end of the story, Sam finds out who the pen pal actually was and boy was she shocked! Samantha was a brave girl who just wanted to be normal. If I was in her position I couldn't possibly imagine what I would do. At the end of the book, I feel that Sam really learns more about herself than anyone else. Although I loved this book and the lessons I learned from it, the book was very predictable. I had a feeling that the father was going to get help and be treated and that somehow the person she was writing to really wasn't who she thought it was. I would definitely recommend this book to kids my age or kids who maybe feel their families might have similar issues to Sam's family.
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