Friday, February 26, 2010

FOR KEEPS by Natasha Friend

I was really excited to discover Natasha Friend was releasing a new book.  Many of my students have enjoyed her other books: LUSH, BOUNCE, and PERFECT.  Now that I've read FOR KEEPS, I know they will love this one, too.

What happens when you think that sometimes you are more mature and in control than your mother?  That's how Josie Gardner sometimes feels.  She and her mother have made it through a lot together.  Josie knows she was the product of a high school romance.  She knows her dad's name was Paul Tucci and that he left town with his family not even knowing he was going to be a father. 

It never really made a difference until one day in the grocery store.  Josie's mother suddenly ducks for cover in the pet-food aisle.  What is going on?  Kate Gardner appears to be a nervous wreck as she whispers to her daughter that Paul Tucci's parents are in the store.  When Josie takes a peek at the couple headed for the checkout, she suddenly realizes they are her grandparents.  Now it's a matter of calming down her frantic mother and finding out what they are doing here.

The mystery is solved by Josie's best friend Liv.  With a little amateur sleuthing, Liv finds out that the Tucci's have moved back to town.  When Josie tells her mother, she's surprised by Kate's sudden lack of interest.  Josie doesn't think there will be a problem and probably not even any contact between them.  It all changes when her boss turns his mediocre ice cream parlor into a thriving little pastry/coffee shop.  Josie's grandfather, Big Nick Tucci, becomes a regular customer.  Again, thanks to her talkative best friend, Josie learns that Paul is the youngest of the Tucci's three boys, and he remains unmarried, working with at-risk youth somewhere in the Carolinas.

Filled with mixed emotions about the possible return of the side of her family she's never known, Josie faces further emotional upheaval when the popular and attractive Matt Rigby makes it known that he is interested in dating her.  It's almost more than one girl can handle.

Natasha Friend's fresh, straight-forward style makes FOR KEEPS excellent reading entertainment.  Her use of humor, down-to-earth characters, and heartfelt relationships will have her fans cheering and any new- comers clamoring for her earlier books.  I'm glad to see this new arrival and will be eagerly awaiting more to come.

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