Lush

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Lush Book Poster Image
Heartfelt look at drinking's impact on families.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 59 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Honest depictions of a struggling family may help readers (and their parents) delve into a touchy topic. Parents and teachers may want to check out Common Sense Media's Alcohol in the Media Tips for some facts and advice.

Positive Messages

Alcoholism is the main focus of this book upon first impression, but it also includes themes of empowerment and strength.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sam's family does ultimately deal with her father's drinking. Sam, too, learns how to stand up for herself -- and that she's not responsible for everything.

Violence

Sam's father hits her young brother with a bottle when he is in an alcohol-fueled rage. When Sam is drunk at a party she is molested by a group of boys in her grade.

Sex

Sam shares some serious kisses with a high school boy; he pressures her to have sex one night while she's drunk at a party -- until he realizes she's only 13. Also, the boys in Sam's grade rank the girls on their physical attributes.

Language

Words like "crap" and "slut."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The story is about an alcoholic, but the behavior is certainly not glamorized. Sam gets drunk at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is about a girl struggling to cope with an alcoholic father. In an alcohol-fueled rage, her father hits her young brother with a bottle. Also, Sam shares some serious kisses with a high school boy; he pressures her to have sex one night while she's drunk at a party -- until he realizes she's only 13. That same night, she is molested by a group of boys in her grade; when she returns to school, she's called names and her locker is vandalized. In the end, this honest depiction of a struggling family may help readers (and their parents) delve into a touchy topic. Parents and teachers may want to check out Common Sense Media's Alcohol in the Media Tips for some facts and advice.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6, 10, 12, and 12 year old Written byComplementing Critic April 8, 2012

Good read.

Something teens and mature tweens should read.
Parent Written byCommonSenseParent December 13, 2010

Perfect read for age 11 (6th grade) and up

Lush is a touching novel about a teenage girl who struggles with an alcoholic father. There is nothing sinful or explicit in this novel, and if you are at least... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bydestthebest123 December 12, 2010

awsome book

hey,im 11(turning 12). im in 6th. the book it totally fine 4 at least 10+. im sure by now, they should no all these stuff.THE BEST BOOK EVA!!!!
Teen, 16 years old Written byBrightRose8 August 8, 2011

It was insightful

This book does have some sexual content when the daughter goes to parties and stuff but it's very insightful on how life is with a drunk as a father. And t... Continue reading

What's the story?

Samantha's father is an alcoholic and her mother is in denial. Sam doesn't want her friends to know what's happening in her house, so she starts leaving notes for a stranger in the library -- and getting answers. Problems escalate at home and at school, making her mysterious adviser finally reveal himself.

Is it any good?

It should be apparent from the title: LUSH deals with alcoholism; as such, it is a pretty typical problem novel with a pretty standard story arc. Readers won't be surprised when Sam's father finally hits rock bottom (though his violent attack on her sweet young brother seems over the top). Nor will they be shocked when her family finally begins to heal at the end of the book.

 

Author Natasha Friend employs a clever device in the letters that Sam exchanges with a mysterious stranger in the library -- though readers may wish it were flushed out a bit more. Friend also creates tender exchanges between Sam and her parents, and her brother. In the end, Friend treads familiar territory here, but her honest depictions of a struggling family may help readers (and their parents) delve into a touchy topic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about "problem novels" like this one that deal with a tough subject. How are books like this helpful for teens? Why would the author choose to include a list of resources in the back of her book?

  • Did you know that the more alcohol ads young people see, the more they drink? According to one 2006 study, each additional dollar alcohol companies spend on advertising raises the number of drinks youths consume by 3 percent. If you were in charge, would you place any restrictions on alcohol advertisers -- or on other kinds of media targeting teens?

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