Life Without Friends Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Life Without Friends

This is a sequel to the Ellen Emerson White book Friends for Life. In this book, Beverly is dealing with a lot of hard things from her past. Her mother committed suicide when she was younger, and her former boyfriend (Tim) was a drug dealer who killed two people and attempted to kill another. Susan is dealing with the self-loathing she feels because she blames herself for her mother's death and the death of Colleen, one of the girls her ex-boyfriend murdered.
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Her involvement with Tim and the murders has also put a strain on her relationships with her family and peers. At school, most of the students and other teachers blame her for Tim's actions because she is the only one still around to take the responsibility. As a result, Beverly is isolated from everyone. At home, her very strict father is terribly disappointed in her, and embarrassed at the prospect of her involvement in a public murder trial. As a result, he limits her activities severely. Beverly also has a strained relationship with her stepmother, Maryanne, whom Beverly holds responsible for her parent's divorce and therefore, indirectly, her mother's death.

Beverly tries to deal with her isolation by telling herself that she is better off alone, that she is better off without friends. She is afraid that anyone who knows about her past will also blame her for her mother and Colleen's deaths, but she masks this fear with anger and emotional distancing. Her father forces her to see a psychiatrist, but she finds it difficult to talk to him because she is afraid he will judge her.

On one of her solitary walks to the park, she meets a city worker named Derek. At first Beverly is angry and defensive when Derek talks to her. She is afraid of him, so again she masks her fear with defensiveness. But gradually Derek and Beverly become friends; she returns to the park several times to talk to him because she can't talk to anyone else, and she knows that he doesn't know anything about her past. At first, it is easier for her to be with Derek than anyone else because she knows she won't have to talk about her mother or Colleen. At first, her relationship increases the strain between her and her father, as she goes out to see him without telling him where she is going or who she is seeing. But when Derek and Maryanne finally convince her to tell her father, her relationship with him is actually strengthened since her family really likes Derek.

But as Derek and Beverly become increasingly closer, she starts to pull away. She knows that she will eventually have to tell Derek about the deaths in her past, and she is afraid that he will judge and shun her when she does. So she decides to reject him before he has a chance to reject her and tells him that she never wants to see him again and that she doesn't have to explain why. Derek refuses to be brushed off and forces a confrontation. Beverly tells him the story about her mother and Colleen's death to prove to herself that he will hate her when he finds out. However, Derek's response to the story is not to hate Beverly. He understands how scared and in how much pain she must have been, and he helps her to realize how bottling up all of her feelings and problems doesn't help, but can actually make matters worse.
The review of this Book prepared by Heather B.

Beverly is a typical seventeen year old teenager who lives with her father (a Harvard professor), her stepmother (a "hippie child") and her stepbrother Oliver, an adorable 5 year-old. She goes to an upscale private school and used to date one of the handsomest, most popular guys in school. She gets straight A's and is at the top of her class. The only problem is, she is a witness for the prosecution at the trial of her ex-boyfriend for murdering a girl at school and attempting to murder two other students.

This book tells the story of how Beverly tries to live a "Life without Friends" because she feels that she doesn't deserve them. She often wishes that her ex-boyfriend had killed her instead so that she wouldn't have to put her family through the spectacle of a murder trial. However, she accidentally meets a guy in the park named Derek and becomes friends with him. Beverly is very scared of trying to love someone again and pushes Derek away every chance she gets, but she really likes being around him...

Eventually, Beverly & Derek do get together and Ellen Emerson White takes us through Beverly's changing relationship with her father, her stepmother, her new boyfriend and her psychologist and shows us that there are always people who love you, no matter what happens.

Although this book is written for teens and children, I think that it is wonderful and I have read and re-read it many times. Beverly is such a likeable character and most girls will identify with her low self-esteem and her desire to change her life.
The review of this Book prepared by Debbie

Chapter Analysis of Life Without Friends

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   actions leading to death of someone Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Age 11-14 Battle with a psychiatrist    -   Yes Drinking/Drugs problems?    -   drugs

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   4 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes City:    -   Boston

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Ellen Emerson White Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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