“Natasha Friend is a Judy Blume for today -- clearly evident in this remarkable new novel about a girl whose father is an alcoholic and how she and her family learn to deal with his condition.
It's hard to be a 13-year-old girl. But it's even harder when your father's a drunk. It adds an extra layer to everything -- your family's reactions to things, the people you're willing to bring home, the way you see yourself and the world. For Samantha, it's something that's been going on for so long that she's almost used to it. Only, you never get used to it. Especially when it starts to get worse...”
Samantha (Sam) is a typical middle school girl, except for one thing, her dad is an alcoholic. Sam’s mom and grandmother (her dad’s mom) are willing if not eager to overlook or flat out deny or ignore what is happening in their lives. Sam decides to seek some advice from a stranger via a note left at the library.
The stranger helps her to learn about herself and her dad’s disease. When Sam meets the stranger, she is surprised to learn that the person has faced adversity as well. Together they work to help Sam learn to help herself as her dad spirals out of control. It isn’t until a regrettable incident involving Sam’s younger brother that her dad finally gets some help.
I love that Natasha Friend doesn’t hesitate to take on the difficult topic of alcoholism. She does an excellent job of describing the lengths to which a person will go to protect their disease. Dad hides bottles, drives drunk while pretending to be ok, screams and yells and then claims not to remember it and so much more. He isn’t a “bum” or a “bad guy”, in fact, he is a highly respected architect. Ms. Friend has chosen a “regular guy” as her alcoholic father. I so much appreciated that aspect of the book. Alcoholics are everywhere, all zip codes, all races, all tax brackets, and all education levels.
In Lush, Natasha Friend not only gives us with a heroine we can root for but also provides information at the end of the book. She includes websites, books, and phone numbers for teens that may have the same family situation.
This book is a great, short read with a good plot and a lot of information!
If you or someone you know is (or may be) an alcoholic here are some resources for help:
Alateen: for teens with a family member or friend who is an alcoholic (either active or in recovery)
Alcoholics Anonymous: for people who are or think they might be alcoholics. Great information about the disease for everyone.
Coping with an Alcoholic Parent: Great info