Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
FRIENDS UNLIKELY follows the lives of five friends whose friendship is tested by several emotionally charged issues. Abbie, Davina, Carlos, Raj, and Juan have formed a friendship through the years and shared everything, or at least that's what Abbie always thought. During the course of the novel, the reader learns that even when friends think they share everything, they still have secrets too difficult to reveal.
The emotional roller-coaster ride begins when Raj is diagnosed with HIV. He confesses to the group that he never dreamed the chance sexual encounter that took his virginity could also cost him his life. The friends find themselves learning as much as possible about HIV/AIDS to help Raj battle the odds against him in an attempt to live a long and healthy life.
The stress of Raj's illness puts a strain on certain aspects of the group's friendship. Carlos's suspected drug use is revealed to be much more serious than the casual pot smoking he has admitted to over the years. When it becomes obvious that his addiction to crystal meth requires rehab, the friends' intervention gets him the treatment he needs. However, denial and the destructive power of the drug make recovery for Carlos doubtful.
Author Susan Smith Alvis packs multiple teen-related issues into her 136 page book. The friends must deal with HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, drug abuse, and homosexuality as they struggle to hold their relationships together. Although I would have liked to see certain elements of the plot developed in more depth, the underlying message is a strong one, and both experienced and reluctant readers will find satisfaction in FRIENDS UNLIKELY.