Published: April 6th 2010 by Penguin Group USA
Hardcover, 272 pages
For sixteen years, Josie Gardner and her mom, Kate, have been a team. It’s been the Gardner Girls against the world, and that’s how Josie likes it. Until one day, in the pet food aisle of Shop-Co, they run into the parents of Paul Tucci, Kate’s high school boyfriend—the father Josie has never met. If Mr. and Mrs. Tucci are back in town, it’s only a matter of time until Paul shows up. Suddenly Josie’s mature, capable mother regresses to the heartbroken teenager she was when Paul moved away. Meanwhile, Josie’s on the verge of having her first real boyfriend, while her free-loving best friend, Liv, begins yet another no-strings-attached fling. When Josie learns some surprising truths about Paul Tucci, she finds herself questioning what she’s always believed about her parents—and about herself. In FOR KEEPS, Natasha Friend tells a fresh, funny, smart story about what happens when a girl gets the guy she always wanted and the dad she never knew she needed.
While I agree with others that For Keeps has a big similarity with the fun mother-daughter relationship between the young teen mother and quirky daughter in Gilmore Girls, the similarities stop there. Josie is a stronger character than Rorie--the daughter in Gilmore Girls, she is also more outgoing. I can say the opposite goes for Katie, Josie's mother. She likes to shy away from things more, however, she still makes people feel better about themselves when she feels like crap. When the parent's of Paul Tucci--the boy (now man) that got Katie pregnant--come into town, they think they're son won't be far behind. Josie goes with what she's been told and speculates on sight what the return of her father might mean. With a hard-cold-truth of a friend, Josie faces the secrets and differentiates the half-truths that she's believed her whole life from what really happened sixteen years ago between her mother and father. What happens when the truth and nothing but is revealed for Josie to hear?
Plus, while the romance relationship between Matt "Riggs" Rigby and Josie was nice to see grow continuously, it did not take on a dominant role in the story line; however, I still loved how the author was able to incorporate that into the story. This did not in any means take away from For Keeps enjoyable, fantastically well-written points. The author made all of the conflicts that was caused by Josie's flickering rage, be understandable and, as a reader should feel, sympathetic. Through her writing, the author tried to make the instability caused by Josie's mother's new relationship into something you'd see--and for others, experience--in real life daily.
I have to say that my favorite character was Big Nick. Mostly because I liked the way he kind of went behind his wife's back just to visit a bakery for some sweets. A lot of others have been saying that Liz was their favorite. While I believe she was an admirable character, not say she was my favorite by the way she always got into Josie's very personal business. I know they're best friends but still. Anyway, besides that quality her straight-forward attitude definitely resembles that ones of some friends I have myself in school. Natasha Friend did a great job in making For Keeps a touching, perceptively influencing read.
Recommended for anyone of YA fan-dom that wants a book that's insightful and so pleasant that you'll be done in just a few hours wanting to know how it ends.