Myla Goldberg, author of the best-selling novel Bee Season, reads a passage from her latest, The False Friend. (Running Time: 13:19)
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.
About the Author:
Myla Goldberg: Myla Goldberg’s best-selling first novel, Bee Season, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2000, winner of the Borders New Voices Prize, and a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award. She sings and plays accordion and banjo in the Brooklyn art-punk band, The Walking Hellos. She writes and teaches in Brooklyn, where she lives with her husband Jason Little and their two daughters.