I picked up Lush by Natasha Friend because she has been dubbed by some as the Judy Blume of today. I have always loved Judy Blume so I thought I would give her a chance. Besides, the premise of the book is one that adolescents can relate to (my students in particular) so I wanted to read this first and perhaps suggest it to them.
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.
Clearly a tough subject, this is a novel written for today's teenagers. I have a hard time saying that Natasha Friend is the modern day Judy Blume, but I can definitely see the resemblance in writing and in topic. Lush is well written, both because the story is interesting and due to the informative nature. Without being a step by step guide to dealing with an alcoholic father, Lush does give the adolescent reader some indirect help. Detailed in both positive and negative ways, Sam deals with her fathers alcoholism as it spirals out of control. The way she deals is almost like a guide for teens who may be struggling with this exact plight. As the story unfolds, multiple layers of issues are presented. Sam is your average teenage girl- for the most part. What sets her apart is her chest- she has curves that most 13-year-olds are nowhere near developing. This is a curse for Sam. She feels exposed and vulnerable especially around the boys who love to point out her "asset". Another layer is her friendship with a group of girls... deceit and jealousy seep into their tight circle before long. And as if those things (and an alcoholic father) aren't enough, throw in an older boy and some poor decision making on Sam's part. All of this combines into a perfect storm, ending with a serious bang. As Samantha comes to terms with her own decisions, she is also attempting to understand her father's alcoholism and her mother's apparent "blind eye" to it.
I really enjoyed this book. Riddled with real life teenage problems and scenarios, this book is a must read for adolescents of today. Whether dealing with substance abuse in their lives or just your standard run of the mill teenage problems, this novel will certainly help guide and inspire readers. Change is possible and necessary- for all parties... something that is clear in this novel. Natasha Friend worked some tough topics and a very serious issue into a powerful read. The books ends with pages of information and resources for teens who are struggling with tough stuff in their lives- a wonderful and necessary addition to the book, because the reality is that many teens are experiencing something similar to Samantha's story. Lush is a definite read.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow