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The False Friend

The False Friend

Buy the book or the audiobook read by the author, from which you can listen to an excerpt here.

Are you in a book group? Invite Myla to your group's discussion of The False Friend!

Here's what people are saying about The False Friend:

The term mean girls is elevated to a new level in Goldberg's moody novel...this is a layered, understated novel about the complex, ambiguous nature of memory and its effect on the dynamics of relationships. Great fodder for reading groups.

- Library Journal, starred review

Myla Goldberg (Bee Season) does a scarily fine job describing the mean dynamic in a clique of five 11-year-olds...tense and marvelous.

- Entertainment Weekly

The False Friend is a riveting read, both compelling and richly satisfying.

— Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls

Not since Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye have we seen such a precise and haunting portrayal of girl bullying. With uncanny pitch and tenderness, Goldberg captures both the passion of female friendship and its most savage rite of passage. Both girls and adults will find solace in this gem of a novel.

- Rachel Simmons, Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

Celia and Djuna were the ringleaders of a highly competitive quintet of girls, caught in an escalating cycle of test, reward and punishment that peaked the afternoon they all walked home along a forbidden woodland road. Celia blocked out what happened, but everyone else in Jensenville assumed that Djuna was abducted that day, though neither Djuna nor her abductor was ever found.

Twenty years later, Celia and her boyfriend Huck are professionally successful, but their relationship has fallen into a stasis that Celia feels helpless to change. When Celia’s memory of that terrible afternoon suddenly returns, she is forced to confront the part she played in her best friend’s disappearance, and returns to Jensenville to confess.

In a hometown defined by what it was and can no longer be, Celia discovers that her unconscious avoidance of what really happened so long ago has had lasting repercussions. Her aging parents—their love handicapped by a lifetime of reserve—insist that she is innocent. Celia’s childhood friends not only don’t believe her, but insist that she should be apologizing for a completely different offense. Huck wants to be supportive, but can neither ignore all that contradicts Celia’s version of the past, nor the damage it has inflicted on their shared life. Celia’s search for the truth has startling and powerful consequences, resulting in a story that persists in the mind long after the last page has been turned.

Deeply resonant and emotionally charged, The False Friend explores the complexities of moral judgment, the fallibility of memory, and the adults that children become—leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, and the lies to which we ultimately succumb.

Listen to Myla's interview with Diane Rehm.

Check out Myla's interview with Jenny Boylan, best known for her extraordinary memoir, She's Not There.

Click here for a reader's guide for yourself or for your book club.