JUST FRIENDS by Norma Klein


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In her last novel, Klein (who died in 1989) traces the progress of four friends in her familiar Upper West Side Manhattan setting. Iz narrates as she and her best friends plan their last high-school year. Beautiful Kettie's hopes prove disconcerting: bored with past boys, she decides to win Stuart--who happens to be the boy-across-the hall and best pal whom Iz has secretly loved since they were children. Iz's first reaction to Kettle and Stuart's sexual involvement is to land a boy of her own--intellectual, sensitive Gregory; but, not surprisingly, by book's end Stuart and Iz are in each other's arms, and the clinch is anything but platonic. Klein transcends this formulaic, threadbare plot with her matter-of-fact narration of these teen-agers' frank sexuality (one of her hallmarks), and with talk and banter that seems deeply rooted in real lives. That girls can be casual, and even cruel, about sex is a rare but honest perspective that keeps the book humorously on track.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1990
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Knopf