Award-winning author of Perfect, Natasha Friend was born in Norwich, New York. Upon receiving her B.A. in Psychology in 1994 from Bates College, Natasha went on to Clemson University to earn her M.A. in English in 1997. As a former camp director and English teacher, Natasha enjoys singing and song-lyric writing and plans to write more books in the future. Her first book, Perfect, poignantly probes the hushed struggles of body image, eating disorders, and grief. Perfect has won the Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature and Book Sense's Pick. When commenting on Perfect, Booklist wrote, "Friend elevates what could have been just another problem novel to a truly worthwhile read of great interest to many girls." Natasha's newest title, Lush, boldly delves into the tumultuous life and mind of a thirteen-year-old girl whose father is an alcoholic. Samantha must cope with sadness, secrecy, and shame in addition to her own teenage trials. Just when Samantha's skin toughens and emotions numb, it gets worse for her. Natasha wrote this book in an effort to spotlight the proverbial "elephant in the room," so that its presence is acknowledged and removed. Natasha currently resides in Connecticut with her husband, Erik, and sons, Jack and Ben.
Gr 7 Up-To the outside world, 13-year-old Samantha's family seems perfectly happy. However, they are struggling to keep her architect father's alcoholism a secret, and the balancing act of enabling his addiction and protecting their image is becoming more and more difficult. Sam longs to be able to share her burden with a friend and reaches out by leaving an anonymous autobiographical letter in a library book. Her anger and frustration are palpable as she struggles with her love for her dad despite the fact that his promises to clean up never materialize. When Sam is chastised by her mother and grandmother for not believing in his ability to change, readers will sympathize with the injustice of her difficult situation. Yet, the author avoids a maudlin tone by infusing the plot with details of typical teen life, such as Sam's crush on an older boy and embarrassment at her developing body. Witty dialogue and smooth writing move the novel along at a clipped pace, and tension is successfully built and maintained as the teen's father's illness takes a dangerous turn, her budding relationship comes to a head, and her anonymous library pen pal is revealed. Despite the minor appearance of a stereotypical librarian, this is a perceptive novel featuring a likable protagonist to whom readers will easily relate. As in Perfect (Milkweed, 2004), Friend adroitly portrays a weighty topic with touches of humor and grace.-Rebecca M. Jones, Fort Myers-Lee County Library, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.