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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: 9780439853477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439853477
  • ASIN: 0439853478
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

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I have read books of course-some good, some bad.
Nicole
I loved this book I couldn't put it down it was a quick read and I loved every second of it.
Madeline Venturo
All in all, I loved this book and would recommend it to teens or anyone older.
Amy C Delgado

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By susannah on October 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am really surprised that no other reviewer seems to feel that the father's bashing his four year old son's head in with a whiskey bottle is a CRIME. No one even thought of calling the police. There was not one moment of consequence for the father.

No other reviewer seems to have any problem with a 17 year old boy getting 13 year old Sam drunk and then trying to have sex with her in her compromised/half conscious state, or that he was coming on to her at all, or that other boys were getting her further drunk and assaulting her. Date rape and statutory rape are CRIMES. No one even thought of calling the police. It might be argued that he didn't know she was only 13 but he also never even asked her age, and had to know she wasn't close to his age. Sam didn't have the experience to know what she was getting into, and AJK should have told her. He knew she was not in high school. I also cringed to read that Sam, still too young, didn't realize the depth of what Drew had done, and was talking about still being attracted to him.

I also felt that it was unfortunate that AJK turned out not to be an older girl. There was not one positive female depiction in the book, except for Charlie's mother, possibly. Sam's friends were typical junior high girls, supportive of her when they felt like it, and turning on her when they felt like it. There was no female depiction of anyone Sam could really turn to, and feel listened to and guided by, and this is also not a positive message for girls.

Sam's dad is sent off to rehab for 28 whole days, and at the end, just like on every page of the book, Sam and Luke are just supposed to be there and be supportive of their father, whether he has stopped drinking or not.
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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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