For Keeps: Natasha Friend

Interesting enough there’s a Molly Ringwald movie  with the same name with a  plot line that is sort of the alternative version prequel  of this.

I love Gilmore Girls, I think it’s because of the quick dialogue and the unrealistically close relationship Rory has with her mom.  So when I heard that For Keeps was like a YA version of one of my favorite TV shows I had to check it out.  Was it as good as the defunct CW show…not exactly, but I did enjoy it.

General Summary: It’s always been Josie and her mom.  They’re best friends.  And most people when looking at them would think that they’re sisters rather than mother.  This is probably because Kate had Josie when she was really young.  As for Josie’s dad she doesn’t know him, he left when her mom got pregnant.  So not surprisingly when Josie’s grandparents move back to town things get a little dicey.


This is such a sweet book.  It’s not that memorable.  But I did enjoy reading it.  I thought Friend did a good job telling the overall story.

The plot itself is pretty simplistic, but there were a lot of emotions that came from it and for that matter subplots.  And honestly, the subplots took over for a lot of the story.  This was both good and bad.  While I enjoyed how the minor characters had a more prominent role in the story, I thought that some of Josie’s story was lost.  And I guess that’s okay, I mean subplots can be important…but Josie had a lot of story to tell.

That being said, I still enjoyed Josie as a character and for that matter most of the other characters in the book.  Friend did a good job making sure everyone was multi-dimensional.  And in YA find that this is something that’s often lacking.

Another thing I really loved about this book was that it was realistic fiction I could enjoy.  I’m going to share a little dirty secret with you, I usually hate realistic YA fiction.   I want more of it, but for the most part the realistic fiction that is out there in YA today is really Lifetime-ish.  And yes, I know that people are going to tell me—oh, you just haven’t read a good YA fiction book.  Why don’t you try Sarah Dessen?  I have tried Dessen and honestly I’m not a fan because I feel like there’s a Lifetime quality to it.  For example, usually the girl has a tragic past or something about her life makes her emotionally unstable and one summer or one boy changes it and she finds her life slightly better at the end of the book.  And okay, I know that’s not a bad thing I just sometimes want to read a realistic fiction book about a seemingly normal girl and that’s what For Keeps was.  Yes, Josie grew up without a father and she’s screwed up but the book isn’t about her being screwed up and fixing her life.  It’s more about her life.  Not everything at the end of the book is resolved, but it’s obvious at the same time that Josie’s life has moved forward and I like that it was like this.  I didn’t feel like I learned some big lesson or that there was some unnatural growth to Josie’s character that occurred throughout the story.   It just felt realistic.

Dessen fans did I just pick the wrong book?  Because really, I was not impressed.

Best Feature: Gilmore Girls: This book reminds me of Gilmore Girls, from the relationship that Josie has with her mom to the town itself.  I really liked the fact that like with Gilmore Girls, the supporting cast gets it’s fair share of development within the book.  In particular, I liked Josie’s best friend, Liv, and her grandfather.

Plus, did I mention that there’s a gelato parlor in Josie’s hometown that gives Luke’s Diner in Stars Hollow a run for it’s money (sort of).

Worst Feature: Subplot Overshadowing: Honestly, I played more attention to the subplots in the book than the actual plot.  I think it might have been because Josie’s best friend, Liv, was such a well formed character with issues of her own that I started carrying about her more than Josie.  And the same goes with Josie’s mom, Kate.  I really like it that Friend knew how to successfully create supporting character, but at the same time I think there was some attention that needed to paid to Josie.

Appropriateness: The book discusses some issues like teen pregnancy and abortion.  It’s probably not the best book for younger teens to read, but at the same time I think it’s probably a great book to give to an older teen if your a parent so that you can discuss these issues in a less awkward like setting.  If that makes any sense.  Plus, I think the book really does a good job at explaining the various views on teen pregnancy without seeming preachy.

Blockbuster Worthy: Of course.  And let’s just make it a TV show I can see it now it will be…it’s been done.  Sort of with Gilmore Girls which has it’s own story and everything, but similar set up.  However, I still would like to see a movie or TV show of For Keeps.

Josie: Emma Roberts, maybe.  I really couldn’t put a face on Josie and Emma is the closest I get when I think about it.

Kate: Sutton Foster.  Why did I choose her mainly because she is the equivalent to Lorelei  on Bunheads and she’s actually sort of how I imagine Kate.

Overall Rating: I like this book besides it’s faults and I can recommend it without feeling any remorse.  Yet, it’s not my favorite book by far.  So I think I’m going to give it a score of seven stars.  It’s a solid book, but not exactly the most memorable and it does have a few problems there and there.

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