Only one girl will be chosen....
In the year since Camille, Alexis, Jasmine, and Angel joined Rachel Jackson's church youth group, the four best friends have bonded over boys, pitched in on community projects, and shared their deepest secrets. There's nothing they don't know about each other -- or is there? When a special guest arrives at Rachel's group and announces auditions for a television talk show, the girls will come to know a side of each other they never knew existed. And they may not like what they see.
Will the four friends become enemies?
The race to find the perfect host for KRCP's Teen Talks is heating up -- the competition is fierce, and so are the lies the girlfriends tell about each other in order to win the coveted spot. But more painful than any lies they can concoct is the cold, hard truth: none of them will reach their ultimate dreams if cutting each other down is how they choose to get ahead. Is winning a place in the spotlight worth losing their friendship?
Includes a reader's group guide!
Be sure to read the previous novels in ReShonda Tate Billingsley's fresh and fun series that looks at the Ten Commandments in a whole new light: Nothing But Drama and Blessings in Disguise -- now available!
ReShonda Tate Billingsley is a general assignment reporter for KRIV-TV, the Fox affiliate in Houston, Texas. She is the author of the nonfiction book Help! I've Turned Into My Mother! and three previous adult novels: My Brother's Keeper, for which she received the prestigious Gold Pen Award for Best New Author from the Black Writer's Alliance and the Nova Lee Nation Award from the Greater Dallas Writing Association; the national bestseller Let the Church Say Amen, chosen for Library Journal's Best of 2004 list for Christian fiction; and I Know I've Been Changed, a Main Selection of the Black Expressions Book Club. Her previous Christian teen novels are Nothing But Drama and Blessings in Disguise, both available from Pocket Books. She is also a contributor to the story anthology Have a Little Faith. Visit her website at www.reshondatatebillingsley.com.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"My name is Tameka Adams, and I don't want to be here." Tameka made the announcement like she was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. She twirled her fingers through her long ponytail as she sighed in frustration.
Personally, I wanted to tell her to beat it, then. I know one thing, if she was coming to join our group, homegirl was gon' have to lose the attitude. I mean, I know she's Rachel's niece by marriage and all. But she and her funky attitude needed to go.
Rachel is our group leader, the founder of the Good Girlz community service group. Don't let the name fool you, though. We all are far from good. Rachel started the group here in Houston as part of some youth outreach program at Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, where her husband was pastor. Her old snooty church members didn't want her to start the group. But even though she's First Lady, Rachel marches to a beat of her own. She told those old biddies where they could go. Now here we are, a year after we started. And even those people who didn't want us at first are now feeling us.
I ain't gon' even lie, though, I came here kickin' and screamin'. But since my choice was either the Good Girlz or jail, well, I guess you could see why I'm here. The bad part was, I got in a whole bunch of trouble over my stupid, no-good, stank, dirty dog ex-boyfriend, Keith. Long story short, the fool went to jail for a carjacking, broke out, and had me hiding him in my grandma's house. Then when the police came, he took off through a back window, and I was the one who got arrested for harboring a fugitive. Can youbelieve that? Me, a straight-A (well, sometimes B and C) person, got arrested. I was only fifteen, so I didn't have to go to regular jail. I spent a week in a juvenile facility while they had a manhunt for Keith. And do you know where they found that dog? At his baby mama's house. That was a bit of a problem because I didn't know he had a baby. And I dang sure didn't know he had a baby mama.
Anyway, he got sent back to jail. They eventually found out he didn't do it -- it was his stepbrother -- so he got out. And of course he tried to come running back to me, but I wasn't hearing it. (Okay, maybe I did take him back one time, but he messed up again, cheating on me with his crazy baby mama, so I kicked him to the curb and I hadn't talked to him since.)
"Hello. Earth to Camille."
I looked up to see Angel waving her hand in my face.
I snapped back to the meeting, not even realizing my mind had wandered off.
"Glad you could rejoin us," Rachel said with a smile.
I shot her an apologetic look as she continued talking.
"Now that I've explained to our new girls all of the benefits of our wonderful group, we want everyone to introduce themselves," Rachel said. "Starting with you, Jasmine."
"Aww, Miss Rachel, it's not like Tameka doesn't know us. She's been here before," Jasmine protested. Tameka had come to our first meeting, but at the time she chose not to participate. I don't know what had brought her back this time.
"It's not like she even wants to know us," I mumbled.
Rachel must've heard me because she cut her eyes at me. "Yes, but Julia doesn't know everyone," Rachel said, referring to the brown-skinned girl sitting in the front row. "And why must you give me a hard time on everything?" Rachel asked Jasmine.
"Fine," Jasmine said. "I'm Jasmine Jones." She turned to Rachel with a huge smile. "How's that?"
Me, Alexis, and Angel cracked up laughing. Jasmine was our girl. Even though she was pretty, she used to have a complex about being so tall and athletic-looking. She'd been like Tameka when we first started, a mean tomboy who didn't want to be here. But we'd broken down her guard, and now she was totally cool. We are all tight. The only other person who'd been in our group was Alexis's friend, Trina. She joined for a little while, but got arrested for shoplifting and sent to jail. (That's another long story.) So I think none of us were too keen on anyone else joining our little circle, especially somebody with a funky attitude like Tameka.
Rachel rolled her eyes. "You all are working my nerves."
Alexis raised her hand. "I'll go, Miss Rachel. My name is Alexis Lansing," she said, standing up, tossing her long golden brown hair over her shoulder. You couldn't tell Alexis she wasn't Beyoncé 's twin. Well, you could but she wouldn't believe you. "I'm a junior at St. Pius Catholic School."
"But she definitely ain't no Catholic schoolgirl," I playfully muttered, referring to her part in the little shoplifting spree she and Trina went on a few months ago. Angel highfived me as Alexis, who was standing in front of me, shot me the finger behind her back.
"Bigmouth over here is Camille Harris," Alexis continued, pointing at me. "And that is Angel Lopez," she said, pointing at Angel. "All of them are juniors at Madison High School."
Julia gave us a smile. She was a weird-looking girl with long black hair that looked like it was in need of a good washing. She wore a long black skirt and long-sleeved black T-shirt, even though it was the middle of August.
"Now, Julia, do you want to tell us a little about yourself?" Rachel asked.
Julia shrugged. "Not much to tell. I go to Lamar High School, and I had to come here because my friends do drugs. I don't, but my parents think I do because I hang around them. They think if I come here, it'll cure me."
We all stared at her. That girl was a druggie if I ever seen one.
"Well, even though you don't think you need to be here, maybe you'll get something out of our group," Rachel said.
Julia didn't look convinced. But Rachel didn't seem to notice as she began talking about all the community service projects we would be working on, including the one we had scheduled for Saturday.
By the time we wrapped up, I think all of us were worn out. Alexis, Angel, and Jasmine immediately gravitated toward one another, so I decided to personally welcome Julia and Tameka, who were sitting off by themselves.
"Hey, are you guys going to be at the community service project Saturday?" I asked.
Tameka folded her arms and stuck out her bottom lip. "I guess, since it seems like we don't really have a choice."
Julia rolled her eyes. "Not if I can help it."
The three of us stood there, looking around awkwardly. I noticed Angel, Alexis, and Jasmine cracking up about something. Finally, when I saw neither Julia or Tameka were in a talkative mood, I shrugged. "Oh, well. See you guys later." I went back to my friends, telling myself I'd tried. I'd just stick to the original Good Girlz, the ones I knew were my true friends. I guess we just had no room for outsiders.
Copyright © 2007 by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Reading Group Guide
Activities to Enhance Your Book Club
Lend a helping hand like the Good Girlz! Find community service projects in your area by logging on to sites such as dosomething.org and handsonnetwork.org.
If you're the host, read quotes from With Friends Like These and see if your friends can guess which characters said them.
Try hosting your own version of Teen Talks. Your fellow book club members can come on the show as one of the characters from the book.
Questions for Discussions
1. When the original Good Girlz -- Camille, Angel, Jasmine, and Alexis -- meet their newest member, Tameka Adams, they are turned off by her negative attitude. Camille says, "I'd just stick to the original Good Girlz, the ones I knew were my true friends. I guess we just had no room for outsiders" (page 5). Why do you think the girls don't like Tameka? Does it have anything to do with the fact that she's their group leader's niece? What is the difference between a close-knit group of friends and a "clique"? What would you consider the Good Girlz?
2. Do you think it's a good decision for Angel not to try out for Teen Talks because she's now a mom? What does this say about her priorities and life goals? Did she have other options she didn't explore?
3. Competition and lying are two of the major themes in With Friends Like These. What is the difference between competition over boys and competition at the television station? When, if ever, is a lie acceptable?
4. Do you think Jasmine has the right to be angry with Alexis for dating Jaquan? Why or why not? Is keeping Jasmine in the dark the same thing as lying to her?
5. Camille and Walter lie to their parents in order to date each other. Is this really necessary? What does this say about their relationship? Are they dating each other simply to rebel, or are they rebelling because they truly care about each other?
6. Why do you think Tameka uses underhanded tactics, such as giving the girls bad advice and stealing Jasmine's research paper? If she had enough confidence in herself would she still cheat? How do the other girls react?
7. When Alexis and Camille are chosen as the finalists, Camille takes Walter up on his offer to help her get the job. Do you consider this cheating? Do you think she would have been more proud of herself knowing she got the job all on her own? How do the other girls react once they find out?
8. At one point in the competition, Rachel says, "God is at the center of everything we do.... We're losing the glue that holds everything together" (page 85). What is Rachel trying to teach the girls about friendship and competition? What are they losing sight of?
9. When the girls believe Alexis had an overdose, they rush to the hospital to be at her side. What does this say about their underlying values and priorities? 10. How does the cancellation of the talk show put things in perspective for Camille? What does she learn about herself and the nature of competition?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is about a 4 friends and them have the chance of a life time to be able to be on tv for their very own show. They end up in a competition for the job and it almost ends their friendship. When one of the friends is said to be hurt they come together as friends and try to get the friendship back to the way it used to be. They end up adding a friend to their group. Alexis is going through a divorce and a break up from jasmines brother. Camille used her boyfriend to pull some strings to get her the job. Her ex boyfriend comes back and beats up her white boyfriend , which they end up breaking up anyway. I like this book because it deals with the issue if friendship and that happens alot when you are in school.
I love this series. I began with the last book 1st (drama queens) and have been hooked ever since. The friendship shared is an excellent representation of the highs, lows, and love of true friendship!!!!!!
This book is not just for teens. I is also for adults. I thought the book was great just like the other books in the series. My teen daughter has all of her friends reading these books. You don't really have to start with the first one because she brings you up to date with each one, but I recomend that you read them all. ReShonda Tate Billingsley is a great writer. I have read many her books and I have not been disapointed.
Im not always the person to love reading books. But when I read this book I couldn't get enough! I was dieing to get another one of Reshondas books. Ive read 2 others by her and still want more!! This book is incredably awesome! there's alot of DRAMA in it but thats what its mostly about!
I've read all three in this series and enjoyed each and everyone...looking forward to reading more...good quick read.
i really enjoyed this book it has real life situations in it and thats what i like to read its really good for teen girls..... i cant wait to read the rest of the books in this series