Keeping Christina

Sue Ellen Bridgers, Author
Sue Ellen Bridgers, Author HarperCollins Publishers $15 (281p) ISBN 978-0-06-021504-0
Hardcover - 281 pages - 978-0-06-021505-7
Library Binding - 290 pages - 978-0-7351-0042-8
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Here's an unsettling morality tale about how not to conduct a friendship. Annie has everything going for her--including enough generosity to take pity on Christina, a lonely new girl in school. First Annie arranges for Christina to come home with her after rehearsals for the school play, then Annie insists that Christina join her circle of intimates--even finding her a date for a dance. Pretty soon, Christina is right in the thick of Annie's life, from baking cookies with Annie's mother (Christina calls her Mom, too), to buddying around with Annie's kid sister, Martha, to planning a cast party with Annie's best friend, Jill. Only older brother Greg and boyfriend Peter remain immune to Christina's charms, but Annie's eyes slowly open to her protegee's chameleon character and cavalier attitude toward the truth. It takes a near-tragedy for Christina's false nature to become apparent to all; in a realistic touch, she is steadfastly unrepentent. Bridgers ( All Together Now ) gets the bouncy milieu of Annie's North Carolina high school down pat, and she describes the twisted dynamics of the girls' relationship in chilling detail. Given that Annie, like her mother, never comes to terms with her compulsion to ``fix'' everyone else's life, however, the author fumbles a little in pinning almost all the blame for the skewed friendship on Christina. Ages 12-up. (June)
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