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For Keeps, Natasha Friend


Josie Gardner and her mother, Kate, are best friends. Kate had Josie when she was only sixteen years old, after her boyfriend, Paul Tucci, moved away to Arizona and left her to raise the baby alone. Josie works for an OCD ice cream shop owner who dreams of one day opening a coffeeshop, plays soccer on the girls’ team with her other best friend Liv, and worries through her complicated relationship with Matt Rigby, while her mom, who owns a bookstore, starts dating a jazz musician. But one day, Kate and Josie see Paul’s parents at the grocery store, and Kate hides behind a grocery display until Josie sends her out to the car. This odd behavior causes Josie to wonder a bit, and as the story progresses, she begins to see her mother not just as her mom and best friend, but as a woman who has made mistakes and has regrets. And one afternoon when Josie goes in to work, she discovers that Bob, her employer, has taken the leap to convert the ice cream shop to a coffeeshop, and soon Josie finds herself serving pastries and cocoa on a regular basis to her grandfather, who still doesn’t know who she is.

I found this book to be an interesting glimpse into the relationship between a single mother and her daughter. Although the story is told in Josie’s voice, Kate is a well-developed character. The conflicts are not always well-written or explained, but that is in line with Josie’s perspective of her mother. It is also worth noting that Josie’s best friend, Liv, has two male parents – a gay couple. This novel would appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen or Deb Caletti.

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