Life Without Friends by Ellen Emerson White

Thanks to Angie over at Angieville (she never steers me wrong), I've discovered the wonderfulness that is Ellen Emerson White. And when she spotlighted Life Without Friends during her weekly Retro Friday post, I knew it was only a matter of time before I picked up this series as well. True, Ellen Emerson White's characters do seem to be very similar - girls from upper class Boston, who usually enjoy sports (typically tennis and skiing- in this case running), and are undoubtedly wicked smart - but each one is so different in her own way that I can't help but love them all. Beverly from Life Without Friends is no exception.

Beverly hasn't exactly had an easy time of things, after her mother died, she's gone to live with her father, step-mother and 5-year-old step-brother Oliver, all of who she couldn't get along with less. On top of that she's entering a new high school she feels completely lost in. In hindsight, she chose the wrong kids to hang around with at school, but at the time gorgeous and fast-living Tim seemed to be perfect. Not unexpectedly, Beverly is at the center of a murder scandal at her school, finding herself ostracized and friendless and constantly eaten up by guilt and self-loathing - wishing she had only done something to stop Tim.

Enter Derek, a fun-loving guy who does landscaping at one of the city parks. After a series of pretty dang humorous encounters, Beverly and Derek embark on a somewhat unusual friendship (meaning Derek doesn't usually know if they will be friends the next day or not). Derek is more than persistent (thankfully) when it comes to Beverly though and doesn't relent until he gets her to open up to him and slowly helps her work through some of her guilt and fears - while making her laugh every step of the way. My kind of guy. That's not the only reason I am in serious like with Derek however, he is just so dang sweet and thoughtful. Like when he was to meet her parents for the first time, he dressed up and even cut his hair and was very anxious to find out what Beverly thought of the result. Pretty cute huh?

I couldn't have loved Beverly's story more. Obviously, she's got some major issues to deal with and demons to beat back but she's trying to work through it all, that (to me) is a major show of courage. That seems to be one of the overall themes in Ellen Emerson White's books; even when her characters have to deal with some tough times, they've proven themselves to be up to the task and so I'm never worried for their futures. Curious? Yes, but anxious, no. I also love that on the cover Beverly is sitting on the bench where she and Derek spend so much time getting to know each other. Nice.

series reading order:
~ Friends for Life - my reivew
~ Life Without Friends


Angiegirl said...

Seriously, I look forward to reading your EEW reviews so much. I have loved this book for so long and know so few people who've read it.

Yay for the DerekLove. And I had to laugh over your Derek not knowing whether they'll be friends from one day to the next. So true!

I think there are bits and pieces of Ms. White in a lot of her main characters, which form the common threads you see. I love it. Beverly is one of my favorite tough girls ever. And Maryanne is by far my favorite stepmother, as they generally get a pretty bad rap in fiction. :)

Michelle said...

Angie - Thanks to you for introducing me to this great author. I have no idea how I missed out on her stuff for so long.

So true. Maryanne is amazing - she really just keeps going no matter what Beverly says to her and I couldn't have loved it more. It was especially nice to see them grow closer towards the end - Beverly sure needed a mom/friend.