Friends for Life by Ellen Emerson White

After having lived in New York for the past three years, Susan McAllister returns to Boston hoping to fit right in with old friends. She's happy to resume her relationship with Patrick and even more excited to be reunited with her best friend Colleen. Colleen however, has changed. She's lost too much weight, seems preoccupied, and is convinced a classmate was murdered when no one else suspects a thing. Susan isn't sure what to make of this accusation until Colleen herself is found dead, supposedly from a drug overdose, and Susan is determined to find out who is responsible for her best friend's murder.

Ooohhh. Feel like we're in a Sweet Valley High novel yet?

Although Susan is convinced of foul play, her parents and even Patrick don't want to hear anything about it. She's all alone on this one and as she slowly starts to tarnish her new girl reputation, Susan gets closer to danger herself as she finds out who dealt that fatal dose of LSD (I know - campy but still fun) to Colleen.

Imagine my surprise when I figured out that the Susan in Friends for Life is actually the same Susan as Meg's hall adviser at college in Long May She Reign - I guess when you have a good character you don't forget them. In Long May She Reign however, I felt like Susan was much more interesting and developed (funny, since she's only a secondary character in that one). Unlike her later books, Friends For Life has a bit of sensationalism to it (upper class teens overdosing on drugs) and is more focused on the drama rather than letting the action be driven by the characters themselves. Which is okay, it just doesn't create the depth which I'm come to associate with Ellen Emerson White's other novels. This difference is most likely due to the fact that Friends for Life is Ellen Emerson White's first novel, written while she was still a student herself. So however much I enjoyed this book, it definitely had a few quirks and didn't pull me in quite as much. That's not to say I didn't enjoy Susan. She's so full of loyalty and courage, it's hard not to like her.

series reading order:
~ Friends for Life
~ Life Without Friends


Angiegirl said...

Check out that old cover! Wow.

I completely agree. Susan didn't wow me until LONG MAY SHE REIGN, but I did enjoy knowing where she came from. I'm much more of a Beverly girl myself. Love her.

Michelle said...

Angie - The cover had me laughing for DAYS. So much is going on there....

Beverly stole my heart - but then Derek didn't exactly leave me be either.

Liz B said...

LIFE WITHOUT FRIENDS is my favorite - I was so happy to see Susan, and hear about Beverly, in LONG MAY SHE REIGN.

Being EEW's first book, it's interesting to read this and then her others and see her growth as a writer. She got some press about her young age at the time -- there was a Seventeen Magazine essay by her, which I cannot find online and the copy I had got lost. I also think the book reflects the time it was published (this, like most of her books, were original paperback).

Have you read the Vietnam books under Zach Emerson? OOP but well worth tracking down.

Michelle said...

Liz - I agree with you that it is interesting to see the differences between this book and her later ones. I really liked Beverly too - and since I read the President's Daughter before this one, a friend had to remind me of the scene when Susan calls Beverly to let her know she's alright. But then I totally squeed with joy. And yes, I loved the Vietnam books - the Road Home has to be one of my new all time favorites!