FOUR AND A HALF STARS “Friends Forever beautifully captures the pain and confusion of early adolescence. Young readers will identify with Debbie and her friends. Older readers will remember and smile. It is a delightful book. I highly recommend it.”
—Carrie S. Masek for Sharpwriter Reviews
“Ms. Miller captures the trails and tribulations of 13 year-olds very easily. She talks their lingo and keeps the book interesting with enough twists and surprises to keep younger readers turning the pages to the very end.”
—Pam Stone for Myshelf Reviews
“Miller’s book accomplishes what few others in this genre do. She effectively combines humor, true life feelings, and interesting dialogue in a novel about peer pressure.”
—Aimee McLeod for Wordweaving Reviews
***EPPIE AWARD FINALIST***
Friendship is a tenuous thing when you’re thirteen and everything in your life is changing, especially your best friend.
Debbie Webly is terrified that she will lose Laura to the influence of Angie who is rich, beautiful, and the most popular girl in school. There’s not much Debbie won’t do to hang on to her friend, but will she cross some line that she can never come back from?
And what about Brad? Does she even stand a chance with him?
The challenges mount when Debbie is tempted to commit social suicide by taking up for Stephanie who is even more of an outcast than she is.
When Angie makes a surprising move, Debbie finds out that true friendship is based on much more than looks or popularity.
Book Excerpt from Friends Forever:
“Growing up isn’t easy,” Debbie’s mother said as she carefully worked a touch of yellow into the flowers coming to life on a canvas in front of her. “Goodness knows it’s never been easy, but the worst thing I had to worry about when I was your age was whether I’d get a new pimple on the night of my first date. I didn’t have to worry about drugs or who might be hanging around school with a gun.”
Debbie stood there half-listening, impatient to be off to meet Laura. She knew her mother meant well, but sometimes Debbie got so tired of hearing the litany over and over again.
Her mother’s voice droned on. “I’d never heard of uppers or downers. The only pills I’d ever seen were aspirins. And the first time one of those melted in my mouth, I decided I’d never...”
“Mom,” Debbie glanced at the door. “Could we talk about this some other time. I promised to meet Laura and I’m already late.”
“There, it’s finished.” Mrs. Webly picked up a rag and
wiped paint off her hands. Somehow she usually managed to get as much paint on herself as she did on the canvas. Debbie could measure her mother’s progress with a painting by the number of different colors splattered on her smock and her hands. “What do you think?”
“It’s pretty, Mom,” Debbie replied, absently. “Can I go now?”
“Such enthusiasm! I don’t know if I can stand it.”
Mrs. Webly laughed. “Okay. But you can only stay an hour. Then I want you back to help me with dinner.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Fair, my little Chickadee says. Fair? Let’s find our contract and see what it says about fair.” Mrs. Webly made a big show of shuffling papers on the desk, and Debbie rolled her eyes. Her mother always acted a little goofy when she finished a painting, but this was a bit much.
“Okay, Mom, I get your point. Can I go now?”
Barely waiting for her mother’s nod, Debbie raced to the door, stepping out into bright sunshine and a cool, fall breeze. The leaves were just starting to turn and Debbie noticed that the colors on the maple almost matched the vibrant yellows and oranges in her mother’s painting. Cool.
Laura lived across the street in a rambling ranch
house similar to its neighbors, but distinct in landscape design. What Debbie’s mother could accomplish on canvas, Mrs. Parker created in dirt. Asters and Chrysanthemums bloomed brilliantly against a backdrop of deep green shrubs. Pansies and Primroses created a riot of color in and around a rock garden. And a low, sculpted hedge followed the curved walkway to the front door.
Most days, Debbie would pause long enough to enjoy the gardening spectacle, but today she had more important things on her mind. She hoped Laura wouldn’t be mad at her for being late. Her friend seemed to get mad over every little thing lately, and Debbie wasn’t quite sure of her footing anymore.
She didn’t understand it. They had been best friends since first grade. As far as she was concerned nothing had changed, and she couldn’t figure out what she’d done to create this tension between them. They only thing she knew for sure was that ever since Angie Cooper started including Laura in her group, things hadn’t been the same.
“Boy, I hate that Angie,” Debbie muttered, ringing the doorbell. “I wish she’d move away. Or grow a big fat wart on her nose.”
Mrs. Parker opened the door and motioned for Debbie to
step in. “Laura’s in the kitchen. Go on back. And help yourself to some cookies if you like.”
Laura was just handing up the telephone as Debbie walked in. “Who was that?” Debbie grabbed a cookie and settled on a barstool at the counter.
“Angie. We’re going to the school in a little while and watch the team practice.”
Debbie’s heart sank. “But I thought we were going to do something this afternoon.”
“You can come if you want.” Laura poured them each a glass of milk. “We might even get a chance to talk to Brad.”
That possibility created a shiver of anticipation in Debbie. New this year, he was the talk of the school, cute, nice, and a smile to die for. All the girls were dying to see who he was going to ask out first, and Debbie harbored a hope that she could surprise them all. But with Angie hanging around he wouldn’t even notice her. She wasn’t exactly a standout when it came to looks. Especially next to Angie who was tall and slim with long blonde hair and eyes that were almost golden.
Debbie could hear her mother’s voice playing another litany in her mind. About how she should see the positives in how she looked. The red highlights in her short, curly brown hair made it look shiny and healthy. And her green eyes sparkled like emeralds. But who wanted to sparkle and shine?
Even Laura had an advantage with her mane of curly red hair that was natural on both counts. And she was now a good two inches taller than Debbie.
Watching her friend put the carton on milk back in the refrigerator, Debbie realized that Laura’s recent growth spurt had reshaped her into something closer to a woman than an adolescent. Was that ever going to happen to her? Or was she destined to be trapped forever in a body thicker around the middle than the chest?
A blur of motion interrupted her thoughts as Scott and two of his friends raced into the kitchen, making a beeline for the plate of cookies.
“Get out of here,” Laura yelled. “And take your creepy friends with you.”
“Don’t have to. This is a free country and I can go anywhere I want. So there.”
Debbie welcomed the intrusion. It saved her the embarrassment of telling Laura the real reason she didn’t want to go to the practice field with her and Angie. “That’s all right,” she said. “I’ve got to go anyway. Mom has some jobs for me to do at home.”
“All you ever do is work. What does your mother think you are, the maid?”
“Yeah. Sometimes I think so, too.”
Debbie waited for a moment, hoping Laura would put up more of a fuss about her having to go. Or maybe say she’d back out of her plans with Angie, but her friend merely shrugged. “Guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” Laura said.
“Or I could call you later.”
Debbie walked slowly across the street. Why did that Angie have to be so popular? And so rich? And why did Laura have to be so impressed? Lately all she heard from her friend was, “Have you seen Angie’s new jacket? Her mom let her spend two hundred dollars on clothes. She got a brand new outfit for cheerleading tryouts. Course she’s a cinch to make it. After all those years of dance lessons, and looking like she does, who wouldn’t get picked?”
It was like Laura had formed a one-girl Angie Cooper fan club.
Well, she can just have her Angie Cooper, Debbie thought. She’ll learn soon enough. Angie was the meanest, most two-faced girl in the entire seventh grade. And one of these days Laura would be sorry.
But even so, it hurt to have her friend acting this
way. “Damn,” Debbie grumbled. “Damn! Damn! Damn!” Her mother would kill her if she ever heard her saying that, but it sure felt good. Much better than kicking the curb and having her toes ache for a week.
What was so hot about being rich, anyway? From what she heard, Angie’s father hardly ever was at home. He worked late or was away on business trips. And Angie’s mother? Rumor had it that Angie never invited anyone to her house because her mother was always yelling at her. That wasn’t much of a life, and if Angie weren’t such snot, Debbie would almost feel sorry for her.
“That was a quick visit,” Mrs. Webly said as Debbie walked into the kitchen. “I thought you and Laura had big plans for this afternoon.”
“We did until that creepy Angie Cooper called and ruined it all.”
“That’s no way to talk about one of your friends.”
“She’s no friend of mine.” Debbie got a glass out of a cabinet and slammed the door. “And if she doesn’t leave Laura alone, I’m going to punch her in the mouth.”
“Now, Honey, you don’t really want to – “
“Yes I do. Laura and I were just fine until she came along. I wish she’d just go away.”
“I’m sure things will get better. Laura will realize that your friendship is more important than anything else. In the meantime, maybe you can find some other girl at school who needs a friend.”
“But Laura’s my BEST FRIEND!” Debbie cried. “Best friends don’t stop being best friends just like that!”
Debbie burst into tears and ran to her room. Throwing herself on the bed, she pounded the pillow, wishing it was Angie. Or maybe Laura. Or maybe her mother for not understanding. Why couldn’t she see how terrible this was?
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