cover image For Keeps

For Keeps

Natasha Friend, . . Viking, $16.99 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-670-01190-2

Like the Gilmore Girls, the Gardner girls are close friends as well as mother and daughter. When she was 16, Kate dropped out of high school to give birth to Josie, while her high school sweetheart, Paul (the father), moved to Arizona with his family. Now, 16 years later, Paul's parents have returned, pushing the past back into the present. Although Josie has no desire to meet her father, fate intervenes and secrets are revealed to Josie and Kate about the circumstances of Josie's birth. Adding to the drama are new men in the lives of both Gardners, and a pregnancy scare for Josie's sassy best friend, Liv, which allow for additional discussions about teen pregnancy and safe sex. Josie's dry sense of humor (“Here I am, asking the question to end all questions... and this is what I get. My head is pounding. I need coffee ”) helps balance out the heavier themes. Things wrap up a bit neatly and Josie tends toward the theatrical, but Friend (Bounce ) weaves a strong story that should hook readers. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)