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Friction    by E. R. Frank order for
by E. R. Frank
Order:  USA  Can
Listening Library, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Alex has enjoyed her time at the Forest Alternative School, where the class consists of a small group of students who interact and become very connected to their teacher, Simon. Her friend, Tim, whom she has known for years, also attends the school, plays soccer with her, and is often over for dinner. Not so much a boyfriend, but a close friend.

Though not without its challenges, Alex's life worsens drastically with the arrival of Stacy at school. The new girl has an edge to her - she lies, she has her tongue pierced, and she insists on pushing people to think about sex. Though Alex befriends Stacy, she immediately becomes a target for Stacy's deceptions. Allegations, gossip, and insinuations plague Alex as her close relationships with Tim and Simon are slowly twisted by Stacy's innuendos. Alex cannot even communicate the truth of her feelings without everyone believing she is covering something up. Misinformation begets assumption, and soon the whole school becomes involved.

E. R. Frank provides listeners with a tale that reminds us that young women face great challenges - from dealing with conflicts of personality to struggling with budding sexuality and understanding moral complexities. While delivering all this in the context of a believable story with interesting characters, Frank also strives to educate his audience without condescending to them. Uncommon words, with which teenagers may be unfamiliar, are used with just the right amount of context to enlighten.

In this first-person narrative, Jessalyn Gilsig delivers a believable story both in Alex's tone and in her voices for different characters. Between the writing and the narrating, one can easily believe that Alex is a twelve-year-old girl facing the troubles we all try hard to forget. I highly recommend Friction to teen girls who may relate in numerous ways to Alex, and can identify with her struggles. But others may also find the story of interest both in content and plot.

Note: This review refers to an unabridged (4 hours, 13 minutes) audiobook narrated by Jessalyn Gilsig, available from Listening Library, and also as a download from

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