Karen Valby
September 29, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The False Friend

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Myla Goldberg
publisher
Doubleday
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

The casual savagery of young girls is not an original topic. But Myla Goldberg (Bee Season) does a scarily fine job describing the mean dynamic in a clique of five 11-year-olds. Celia — 32, and working for the city of Chicago — is struck by a sudden childhood memory, and starts to believe that she let her mercurial best friend Djuna, long thought to have been abducted, die in the woods alone. She returns home on a quest to convince her parents, and the surviving three friends, of her crime. The scenes of grown-ups struggling to make sense of the past are tense and marvelous. But the ending is frustratingly inert, eliciting a shrug rather than a shudder. B

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