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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Review : Friend is Not a Verb by Daniel Ehrenhaft

Title : Friend is Not a Verb
Author : Daniel Ehrenhaft
Publisher : HarperTeen
Genre : Young Adult,  Mystery
ISBN : 978-0061131066
Series : Stand Alone
Release Date : May 4, 2010
Rating : 4/5 Stars - Really Liked It

Synopsis from Publisher

Henry "Hen" Birnbaum's sister, Sarah, missing for over a year, has come home unexpectedly, with no explanation at all. But he can't leave well enough alone; Hen needs to figure out why she disappeared, even if she won't tell him. It's not like he has anything better to do. His girlfriend just dumped him and kicked him out of their band. He can't play the bass worth crap anyway. His social life consists of night after night of VH1 marathons with his best friend and next-door neighbor, the neurotic Emma Wood.

Hen's sure the answers to Sarah's lost year lie with Gabriel Stern—Sarah's friend from college who also happens to be a twenty-two-year-old fugitive from the law and Hen's bass teacher . . . too bad he can't play bass worth crap either. A month into his quest, Hen has had countless consultations with Emma, watched approximately fifty-three reruns of Behind the Music, and made one new Facebook friend. Unfortunately, he's no closer to any revelations about his sister. The thing is, he's too distracted to notice it, but while Hen's been looking for all the answers, something mind-blowing happened: He got a life.


Henry "Hen" Birnbaum has been going through a lot this year, and it hasn't all affected him for the better.  When his sister Sarah first ran away a year ago, it really tore him up.  All he knew was that she did something she wasn't supposed to do, and was now a fugitive of the law.  His own parents won't even give him the run-down on what his sister has done, although they know perfectly well what it was.  Needless to say, Hen is tired of being considered a child, he's 16-years old now, and has the right to know some things.

The night his sister decides to return to the family, Hen's life gets worse.  His girlfriend, and the leader of their band PETRA, breaks up with him in the middle of the rain, and then continues to boot him from his position as the band's bass player.  It's okay though, because he never really could play the bass very well anyway.  When he arrives home and finds a note from his parents claiming they've gone to pick up his sister Sarah, Hen can't believe it.  He can't decide whether he's truly happy to see his sister, or still infuriated with her for leaving without even saying good-bye.

Things between him and Sarah are weird now, especially since she still won't tell him what's going on.  When her friend and fellow fugitive, Gabriel Stern, offers to give him bass lessons, Hen decides to take them in hopes that Gabe will slip up and tell him what is going on.  Instead it seems Gabe is more worried about Hen admitting to feelings towards his best friend, Emily Wood, that he's not even sure are really there.  Emily has always been next door, and she knows just about everything about him, but can there be more to their relationship than Hen thinks?

I really liked Hen's character from the very first page.  He may have been a little depressing at times, but he was extremely quick-witted and had the tendency to make me giggle.  I could understand why Hen was angry at his sister Sarah for leaving, and then returning without giving him an inkling toward her reasons.  On the other hand, I think he could have been a little more happy to see her, especially if he missed her as much as he claimed.  

There was a lot of characters in this book, and believe it or not, despite how short it is you learn a lot about each and everyone of them.  My favorite character was probably Emily, even though there were a few times that I wanted to wring her neck because of the things she was doing.  She was all around good-hearted, and despite some of the things she did, they were always for the benefit of others.  

My least favorite character was Petra, the ex-girlfriend.  She wasn't really that bad actually, but it seemed that if you weren't cool, she wanted nothing from you.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree though, if you ask me, because her father wasn't really any better.  Both characters are nice to those around them, but in the limelight of things you feel like your just not up to their standards the more you read about them.

The mystery of Hen's missing sister hovered over this entire plot, while it wasn't always front and center.  Hen almost always had it on his mind, despite the fact that he tried his hardest to just leave it alone.  The funny thing is, the answer to the mystery was in front of both Hen's, and the readers face the whole time, you just didn't know it.  I was completely surprised when I found out Sarah's story at the end of this book, and actually slapped my knee because I was too silly to figure it out earlier on.  

All around this was a great book.  You learn a lot about Hen, and his friends.  Despite the lack of appearance from his sister, Sarah, she is one of the main focus points of this novel.  Even though you get to watch Hen grow as a teenager, and learn more about himself and those around him, you still find yourself wondering what his sister could have done to get herself into so much trouble.  I'll more than likely be reading more books by Daniel Ehrenhaft in the future, because I loved his writing.  I even liked that it was narrated from Hen's point of view.  I'm usually not into books narrated by male characters, but his one was written perfectly, and it made me feel like I really knew Hen, sometimes better than he knew himself.

Where did I get this book?

I received my ARC for participating in a traveling tour with Around the World Tours.

Amazon Affiliates

Clicking on title links in this post will redirect you to If you happen to make a purchase after clicking these links I will receive a small percentage of the profits.


Heather R. Holden said...

Great review! The premise of this book sounds awesome--I really want to read it now. (And I often strictly read fantasy, so that's a lot coming from me!)

Jenni @ Falling Off The Shelf said...

Great! Glad to hear it :) I do hope you give it a try.