The False Friend

By Myla Goldberg
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385527217, 272pp.)

Publication Date: October 5, 2010

List Price: $25.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the October 2010 Indie Next List
“Arrested by a childhood memory triggered 21 years later, Celia Durst decides it's time to tell the truth about her part in the events that led to the disappearance of her childhood friend Djuna. After telling her overwhelmed partner, Huck, she goes home to confess her lie to her parents, her friend's mother, and the other girls who formed their clique. No one believes her new version of events. Goldberg does not shy away from the cruelties that strong girls inflict on their prey. Each character pushes Celia to acknowledge truths she'd rather not know. The ending, in all its perfect brevity, will keep you awake, hoping that Celia can go back to her life.”
-- Helen Sinoradzki, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, OR


From the bestselling author of Bee Season comes an astonishingly complex psychological drama with a simple setup: two  eleven-year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods. Only one comes out . . .

Leaders of a mercurial clique of girls, Celia and Djuna reigned mercilessly over their three followers. One after­noon, they decided to walk home along a forbidden road. Djuna disappeared, and for twenty years Celia blocked out how it happened.

The lie Celia told to conceal her misdeed became the accepted truth: everyone assumed Djuna had been abducted, though neither she nor her abductor was ever found. Celia’s unconscious avoidance of this has meant that while she and her longtime boyfriend, Huck, are professionally successful, they’ve been unable to move forward, their relationship falling into a rut that threatens to bury them both.

Celia returns to her hometown to confess the truth, but her family and childhood friends don’t believe her. Huck wants to be supportive, but his love can’t blind him to all that contra­dicts Celia’s version of the past.

Celia’s desperate search to understand what happened to Djuna has powerful consequences. A deeply resonant and emotionally charged story, The False Friend explores the adults that children become—leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, as well as the lies to which we succumb.

About the Author

MYLA GOLDBERG is the author of the bestselling Bee Season, which was a New York Times Notable Book in 2000, later made into a film; and Wickett’s Remedy. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Conversation Starters from


  1. The False Friend is set into motion when Celia remembers her friend Djuna after having managed to block out those memories for twenty years. What is it about where Celia is in her life or her relationships that may have brought this memory to the surface?  Does this sort of sudden recollection make sense to you, or was it difficult for you to accept the book’s opening premise?

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