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Friends of Choice by Linda Nelson
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Friends of Choice

by Linda Nelson

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I thought the author had a nice, easy style of writing, good for young adults to follow and stay engaged. This author also caught the main character’s teenage, whiney, true-to-life ‘angst’ teenagers have against their parents, in particular, her mother. The author hit the nail on the head with that one! Great job! I did enjoy this part because it is so true to life.
I had a hard time writing this review because there are to many things that did not make sense in this book and to many loose ends the author left hanging.
I did feel as if the book dragged out a little too long in some places. I read there is a sequel, and perhaps the sequel and this book should be merged together so this book would make more sense.
Karla had to move because of her parent’s decision to move closer to her father’s new job to accommodate his new commute. The author spent to much time explaining the packing at the old house, driving to the new house, the packing and unpacking at the new house, setting up her bedroom, etc.
Even though I said I really liked the way this author writes, there are some areas where this book dragged on to long. This is where an author could lose the attention of Young Adult Readers by taking to much time to get the story going.
Karla’s mother had Karla go to school the VERY NEXT DAY after moving? It was FRIDAY!! Karla ‘could’ have started on Monday. This could have given Karla some more time after the moving ‘rush’ to unpack and set things up a little slower and not in such a rush? The packing and moving from the old house happened all in one day, as well as the unpacking into the new house. Karla’s mother expected everything to be done in one day? I feel if she had given Karla more time to make the adjustment of her new home, slowed down just a little, perhaps she could have had more time in making better choices when choosing her new friends, instead, she was rushed through all of this.
As Karla started at her new school the very next day after moving to her new house, she met a new WRONG friend named Carol, who, right away approached Karla, trying to make friends with her, and to find out all about her. Carol finds out Karla is from a close by RIVAL school. Hmmm? Carol is a popular girl at this new school, among the Jocks and Cheerleaders. Karla, I think, felt special that she fit in so well with this crowd right away at her new school when she did not fit in with this crowd at her old school, however, she didn’t really fit in with this new crowd at the new school, as the other kids in the group pretty much just ignored Karla. It was Carol who was putting Karla in with this crowd.
Could this rushing Karla to school be where Karla’s parents’, especially her mother, faulted in not learning about her newly found friends? Rush, rush, rush. She asked about the new friends Karla made, but didn’t go deeper into finding out how Karla made friends with Carol, or what ‘other’ friends she had made, or how they all became friends. Could this, perhaps, helped to have stopped Carol from doing what she did at the end if Karla’s parent’s had been more involved with the choice of friends she was making?
Karla was always trying to call her new friend, Carol; having her calls ignored. Hmmm? Carol was NEVER home. Suggest anything? Doesn’t LIKE being at home?? Hmmm? Carol’s parents evidently did NOT teach her any values or else she would have been home more, in my opinion. Carol’s relationship with her parent’s should have been expanded on so we could have learned more about Carol and what she was really like. This was part of the problem with this story. We never learned enough about who Carol really was. I was NOT expecting what happened at the end of the book. Way to many loose ends.
In my opinion, the author should have incorporated many other new friends Karla made. We know she made other friends other than Carol, as that is only natural, but we are never introduced to them, either in Karla’s classes or at lunchtime. 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 their school from the ‘rival school’, Karla’s old High School. This is where there is a huge missing link in the book where Karla had no idea just exactly what Carol had set her up for. This could have tipped Karla off at least a little bit if she had made more friends. This is where the book needs to be expanded upon.
We keep 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, if Karla had made other new friends, she could have hung out with them other than Carol. Carol took up a large part of the book, too much.
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.
When Karla’s friends from her old high school and neighborhood came to spend the night, one of the girls 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 this new friend, Carol, and using her gut more, but she was ignoring it. 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. Was Karla worried her old friends would not like her new friend? That, right there, was her gut working. The author should have expanded on this.
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.
What happened at the end of the book? This really bad thing that happens to Karla, and now all of a sudden this book is all about Carol? What about Karla? What about Karla’s condition? She had no voice. What about Karla’s parents? Where are they? We are left hanging terribly. All we are told is they 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 more of the details of why Carol did what she did.
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.
I hope the books (the original and the sequel) are 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. ( )
  lauriehere | Jun 13, 2016 |
Brutally honest look at what can happen to a child who just wants to make friends. Kayla's family have lost their jobs and have had to sell their house and move to another town. Kayla meets Carol at her new school and Carol starts to include Kayla. Kayla notices that Carol's friends are whispering and she starts to feel uncomfortable but she is new in school and doesn't want them to not like her. After hanging out with Carol, Kayla notices her deliquient behavior and she wonders if Carol is really trying to be her friend. ( )
  Scoshie | Jan 2, 2012 |
I won this in the member giveaways and was sorely disappointed. I felt that the main character was whiny and a caricature of a high school girl. She complained bitterly about very minor things that her parents did. The book over all was very predictable and could use editing. ( )
2 vote Whitaknee | Sep 11, 2011 |
This story was about a high school teenager named Karla Centon. Her family moved after her father got a new job in another town. She wasn’t that popular in her old school, so she may have seen this new school as a new opportunity to reinvent herself.

She meets a girl named Carol and Carol befriends her. It is obvious that Carol has some bad behavior from the beginning, but Karla chose to overlook it. Carol was drinking, shop lifting, unconcerned with her education or really her future, lacked parental guidance and Carol was appeared to be a bully.
Karla didn’t really stand up for herself or her values, but then again, the author didn’t make it clear whether Karla even had good values. At least Karla’s mom asked where she was going and appeared concerned, whereas Carol’s mom was just clueless.

Carol invites Karla to a house party where drugs and alcohol were present. Karla takes a drink from Carol and never asked her what she was drinking. Karla also didn't ask Carol what was the substance that Carol dropped into the drinks that fizzed.
At the end of the night (and book), Karla ended up at the hospital.
A lot of things come to light.

1) Lots of great issues touched upon: self-esteem, shoplifting, drugs, date rape, drinking, academics vs. sports, parental/child relationships or lack thereof, dangers of alcoholism, consequences of job loss, bullying etc.
However, it was too much stuff for such a small book. Also these subjects were mentioned but not delved into. I would have preferred 1-3 topics fully developed rather than this kitchen sink type of plot.

2) I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t have a good grasp on Karla’s personality. Was she a strong person before meeting Carol and was duped? Or was she a follower anyway? I would like to say that she would not have had sex with Gerry without the date rape drug…but I can’t. Karla didn’t seem to take a stand on much, so I don’t know what her behavior would have been. Either way, it doesn’t excuse Gerry’s behavior.

3) The date rape drugs, alcohol and jocks theme is kind of stereotypical, but I do appreciate the point that sometimes being with the Captain of the football team can cloud a girl’s judgment. But Date rape is hard to prove. I am surprised Carol was so forth coming, that seems inconsistent with her personality.
I didn't like the cops not being truthful with the Karla.

4) There were issues with the family that wasn’t explored well. For instance, Mrs. Centon’s drinking was mentioned a lot but we don’t know when she started, how long and what may have precipitated the drinking. Alcoholism in woman is becoming a problem in society, so the author could have expounded on that issue, and it affected the family. Instead there were a couple of sentences thrown in about foreclosure due to her behavior/problem.

5) Carol seemed to have set Karla up from the minute she realized Karla was from a rival school. But then Carol seemed genuinely upset that Karla was gang-raped and that she overdosed on drugs. Carol said this was what they did to rivals, which leads me to believe that Carol has done this to a previous girl. So why the remorse now? Also, how does Carol afford alcohol and drugs? Surely she can steal clothes, but it’s hard to steal drugs and alcohol.

This book was disturbing to me. I realize that the subject matter is a very real issue in our society and deserves a lot of discussion, but I don’t think it was done well. There are a lot of holes in the plot or areas that require much more development.
My suggestion would be to use this story as an outline and then go back and expand on the issues the author wants to bring to the forefront. A good idea, perhaps not executed as well as the author could have.

**I won this book as part of the LibraryThing Member Giveaway** ( )
  Ezinwanyi | Sep 2, 2011 |
I won this e-book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway Group.
I'm not sure how I feel about the book. I like that this books is supposed to be through the eyes of a teenage girl, but I didn't like how the author had the parents talking. Almost sounded childish to me. The idea of the book is great, If they fixed it up a lil' bit I think it is one I would let my daughter read. It's a great book to teach teens how easily they can be influenced to do things they wouldn't normally do. ( )
  RNP247 | Aug 31, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0557497426, Paperback)

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. This whole ordeal has left her feeling angst and rebellious toward her folks.
The school she is to attend is about three times the size of her old school. It can hold many new opportunities for her.
At Brantwood High, she meets Carol Bower, who helps her find her first class. She invites Karla to eat lunch with her and is introduced to her clique of friends.
In her history class, Karla meets her first crush. He is one of Carol's friends. He is also the football captain of the varsity team.
They invite Karla to her first teen party. But first, she must convince her parents into letting her sleep over Carol's.
She begins to feel she is about to be a victim of hazing. Karla starts to have second thoughts about going to this party and hanging out with Carol and her friends.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:06 -0400)

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