cover image The Love of Friends

The Love of Friends

Nancy Bond. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $17 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81365-8

Bond's eighth book, a sequel to The Best of Enemies and A Place to Come Back To, focuses on such complex issues as love, friendship and honesty. Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Paige is expecting a vacation with her old friend Oliver Shattuck in London, to which he has moved with his mother and stepfather. Instead, he manipulates her into a surreptitious journey to Scotland in order to interview a friend of his deceased uncle, Commodore Shattuck, to find out about the Commodore's life. Charlotte, who is uncomfortable about this deception and the intrusion on the Commodore's ailing friend, begins to question what loyalty to Oliver truly requires. Much is made of Charlotte's attempts to understand Oliver's self-absorption and anger against his mother. An interesting but improbable subplot involves an unmarried pregnant American exchange student, who is surprisingly sophisticated about an adult world that mystifies the somewhat sheltered Charlotte. Unfortunately, Bond never reconciles the strands of personal history that mark Charlotte's coming-of-age. And while her portrayal of Charlotte's hometown friend, Andy, reveals a steadier friendship than the one Oliver can offer, most of the other characters and plot devices in the novel are predictable and not nearly as compelling as those found in Bond's earlier work. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)