Title: For Keeps
Author: Natasha Friend
Release Date: April 6, 2010
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
It might be corny, but even though she’s a junior in high school, Josie’s best friend is her mom, Kate. Kate was only 16 when she got pregnant with Josie, and as a result, they’re more like sisters than they are mother and daughter. However, Kate starts dating an new guy, Jonathan, and the mother-daughter dynamic begins to change in negative ways. Throw in a new guy for Josie and the reappearance of Josie’s father’s parents in town, and Josie just might have more than she can handle!
For Keeps is an appealing and entertaining teenage story that was both well-written and fun to read. The main character, Josie, is complex and easy to sympathize with. Sure, sometimes she can act unfairly towards her mother, but she is a very realistic teenager. Natasha Friend accomplished quite a feat with Josie – she manages to be a true teen without being unnecessarily frustrating. She’s deep, complex, and best of all, she wants more out of life than just boys and alcohol. School, soccer, friends and family – these are all very important to Josie.
I really appreciated that “getting the guy” wasn’t the main storyline in this novel, by any stretch of the imagination. While I do understand that boys are incredibly important to teenage girls, and they may seem like a life or death situation at that age, I just have trouble taking it seriously. As an adult, when I read about a teen talking about “love” or “forever,” I often roll my eyes. As a result, I enjoyed this book a lot because it wasn’t necessarily about a guy, though it did have that element.
I loved the relationship between Josie and Kate – it reminded me of the relationship between Lorelai and Rory in Gilmore Girls, a TV show I really enjoyed. At the same time, though, they definitely hit some rough patches in this book. It’s interesting to see how the mother/daughter dynamic changes in this novel, especially considering that sometimes Josie seems like the mother and Kate the daughter.
I also appreciated Josie’s best friend, Liv. She wasn’t afraid to be her own person, and expressed it through the way she dressed. She didn’t care what people might say about her – she wanted to do her own thing. Her two dads only added to her appealing nature and situation.
For Keeps had a lot going on, but it was never too much or overdone. Friend makes sure to keep the reader hooked on the novel from beginning to end. Josie is a realistic teenager who has a lot to deal with in this book, and it’s a lot of fun to read. I definitely am looking forward to seeing what Natasha Friend does next.