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Best of Friends

Page history last edited by Todd Ide 10 years, 3 months ago

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Plot Summary

     Best of Friends is contemporary realistic fiction. The main character, Glen is an average boy in a small town in the United States. He has no magical powers and deals with problems that most teenagers do like girls, grades, friends, fights and parents.               

     This is a coming of age story about Glen, whose life changes when Charlie, a flashy, spoiled boy from a big city moves on his street. They become fast friends but in the process of becoming good friends with Charlie, Glen loses his best friend Phil and discovers that he is tired of being "good old Glen". He begins to wonder about things like death and religion and Charlie's obsession with  Nicole, a girl in their class. Charlie goes out with many girls in their small town but Glen is only bothered when Charlie pursues Nicole. 

     Charlie and Phil have become enemies because it seems as if Charlie is taking Phil's place. Charlie wins the quarterback position on their high school football team, has stolen Phil's best friend Glen and even tries to date Phil's girlfriend Lisa. Though Charlie did not start off trying to do any of those things he relishes in the idea that Phil is so jealous of him and begins to purposely antagonize Phil.

     All the girls like Charlie except Nicole. Nicole is different. She does not go to the parties that everyone else does (though she is pretty and nice and it seems she would go). She always seems to look out for others, like when their teacher Mr. Jackman began to cry in class for no apparent reason, Nicole walked over to talk to him. Nicole is the best looking girl in town and Charlie wants to date her and will do anything he can to get her attention...including attending her father's church.

 

Textual Elements

     Plot: Glen is learning about himself, what he really cares about and what his beliefs are. 

     Setting: The setting is a small town where one movie plays and everyone hangs out at the drive-in. Everyone seems to know one another and look out for one another.

     Characters: Glen is the main character and he describes himself as lazy. He earns C's and D's in school and is not bothered by the fact that he is an underachiever until he has a conversation with his father that changes his mind about what type of grades he can earn.

     Charlie is the new kid and his parents seem to give him anything he wants. He becomes the school's quarterback and makes very good grades. Charlie likes to date a lot of girls and when Nicole turns him down he becomes obsessed with getting her to date him. He even begins attending the church her father pastors.

     Nicole is a pastor's daughter and she is very nice but she does not fall all over Charlie like all the other girls he asks out.

     Phil was Glen's best friend until he began dating Lisa the head cheerleader. Lisa demands all of Phil's attention. Phil has a short temper and is very jealous of Charlie.

     Point of view: The story is told through the eyes of Glen. We can only guess what others are thinking. 

     One theme is the masks that people wear to keep people from finding out who they really are. Charlie pretends to be a sweet guy but then uses the girls in town with no regard to their feelings. Glen pretends that he is not capable of doing anything but hanging around and just getting by with his grades. Another on going theme is control and who people allow to control their lives. Glen learns to take control of his own life and then allows God to control his life at the end of the book.

 

Analysis and Critique

     This book goes from just being a book about teenager to explicitly promoting Christianity as an answer to dealing with life's problems. Religion and girls are discussed but sex is avoided. Instead innuendos are used like when Charlie tells Glen that he will have to explain the birds and the bees to him. Christianity almost sneaks upon you in this story and for most of the book is not the main focus. The author is very biased in her values without explicitly putting down the values of others. Glenn does not have a car because his parents would not allow him to buy one even with his own money but Charlie has a two year old Corvette that his parents bought him. This might not mean much at first but Charlie is painted as a negative character because he is a womanizer who antagonizes Glenn's friend Phil, while Glenn is painted as the good guy who tries to break up Phil and Charlie's  fights and is not a womanizer. 

     When Glen begins to learn what a Christian is he never looks at other religions or even questions the validity of the Christianity that Pastor Grant preaches about. This makes it seem as if Christianity is the only logical answer to questions about death and who one wants to control their life. 

     I think that Nicole's character should have been revealed more. We really do not know why Glen likes Nicole or when he began to like Nicole.  The book is one in a series of books so perhaps more is shared about Nicole's personality in those books. 

     I believe this is a good book for children who relate to having sheltered lives and living in a small town. I believe it is an especially good book for those whose lives are sheltered because it can help them realize they are not as different as they think. This book also shows that it is normal  not be crazy about the opposite sex and you do not have to get drunk or act stupid to have fun.  I do think that books like this should not be the only books read by teenagers because the characters are not very diverse and other points of view are not explored. I do not want to detract from the reality that some teenagers do have lives like this but I do think this book portrays a lifestyle that is becoming rare. This is a good book for readers who like little conflict and happy endings. The book is about 10 years behind because the technology in it is mostly from the late eighties and early nineties and it is quite noticeable.

 

Citation

Lindquist,N.J.. Best of Friends.Chicago: Moody Press,1991.

 

References

http://www.njlindquist.com/books/best-of-friends/

 

 

 

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