Charlie wanted to know about girls—were there any he hadn’t met yet? I really couldn’t think of any. Well, just a couple who I didn’t think he’d be interested in—one dumpy girl who never takes part in anything and Joyce Burgess, who wears glasses and is kind of chubby and sort of plain. Girls seem to like her, but I’ve never noticed any guys that were at all interested.
And then I remembered her. Why I hadn’t before, I don’t know. She’s everything Charlie could want, and no doubt she’ll like him, too. At least, she might. With her, you never can tell.
Charlie noticed that I’d stopped talking. “What are you thinking about? Remember somebody?” I didn’t know whether to tell him or wait until he spotted her for himself. I decided to wait. “Nothing special. If I’ve missed anyone, you’ll soon find out.”
Seventeen-year-old Glen Sauten is a small-town boy who has led a low-key life until the day Charlie Thornton moves in across the street. Charlie takes everyone in the small town by storm, except for two people—Glen’s former best friend, Phil Trent, and the local pastor’s daughter, Nicole Grant. As Glen gets caught in the middle of Phil and Charlie’s rivalry and Charlie’s obsession to date Nicole, he opens himself up to major problems—some life-threatening, some life-changing.
The Circle of Friends series was a “Read For Life” pick.
He thinks his parents baby him a bit too much, but generally life is pretty happy for Glen, although uneventful. Until he meets…
The new kid in town. Charlie has everything money can buy, including a shiny, red Mustang. Furthermore, his sophistication, athletic ability, and drop dead good looks seem to attract every girl in school except…
The pastor’s daughter. Nicole is as beautiful as she is intelligent and remains unmoved by Charlie’s advances–much to his frustration. And the amusement of…
Glen’s best friend since kindergarten. But he is not amused to see Charlie take his place as Glen’s new best friend, football quarterback, and the number one choice of every girl in town except Nicole. Even the weirdest girl in town…
Although Glen has been avoiding Marta for years, Charlie likes her—at least for now. But you never know what she’s going to do. And if Charlie dumps her for Nicole, Glen doesn’t want to be around for the fireworks!
Being Charlie’s friend isn’t always easy for Glen. And keeping harmony between Charlie and Glen’s other best friend, Luke Trent, is next to impossible. But it does lead to adventures. Countless adventures. In fact, Glen’s whole life seems rocked by new experiences. Some of them life-threatening. And some life-changing!
Nicole’s best friend. Zoey doesn’t seem to mind that none of the boys show any interest in her except to get closer to Nicole. But she’s worried that Nicole might not be quite as immune to Charlie as she thinks she is.
Debbie Doane, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
“Glen, seventeen, likes his ordinary life; he never gets too excited about anything. As the narrative is written from Glen’s point of view, the reader learns that clothes and girls aren’t important to him yet. His parents think he’s not living up to his potential, but that doesn’t bother him much either – until his father challenges him to study for an A on a test.
“Luke, Glen’s friend since kindergarten, has no time for him anymore because of his new girl, Jamie. Glen feels deserted and lonely. Then Charlie Thornton moves in across the street. A star football player, tall, blonde and good-looking, Charlie teaches Glen about drinking and breaking the rules. Drawn to Nicole, the pastor’s daughter, Glen believes she only has eyes for someone else.
“Life seems easy for newcomer Charlie, until he tries to date Nicole and she turns him down. He believes she’s playing hard to get, while Glen draws mistaken conclusions, which set the stage for misunderstanding and confusion. Readers are drawn into the story, The Best of Friends, through the many teen-age problems and fears, which lead to gripping questions about real issues. As Glen experiences a life-threatening mine cave in, he questions whether there really is a God, and learns that growing up has a price.”
Christian Library Journal
“These four books take you through the life of Glen and his friends. Glen is a guy who starts seeing the pastor’s daughter for the wrong reasons, but his life is changed eternally because of it. His life has its ups and downs as he struggles with his new faith and old friends.… Everyone knows someone who isn’t saved and can relate to the teenagers in these books. Maybe you know someone you or your teen just can’t reach; one of these books may be the key to opening that door of communication. These books are a great tool for sharing your faith and would be a great addition to your home library or your church library.”
ChristianWeek, reviewed by author Fay S. Latka
“I found the protagonist, 17-year-old Glen Sauten, to be an entirely believable teen with real life issues and friends. Glen is forever in the middle: between two friends who hate each other, between the worlds of childhood and adulthood, between living and simply observing life. Watching Glen try to straddle these worlds, and finally decide to choose life on all levels is exciting stuff. The story grabbed me from the first paragraph and would, I think, do the same for most teens and “teens at heart.” An evangelical-oriented novel that retains its authenticity to this degree is rare and should not be missed.”
Christian News Ottawa, reviewed by Reena Kasam, 18
“I realized that I knew people who resembled the character of Charlie Thornton, star quarterback/womanizer/most popular guy in town. Glen Sauten, the protagonist of the book, reminded me of those people who follow others around, cause they have no courage to be independent, or just like to follow the crowd. Characters such as Marta Billings and her friends resemble the snobby chick clique that I see wandering around the halls of my own high school. The author did a good job in adequately portraying the youth of today….
“Glen wonders all about the religious world, something that he does not belong to in the beginning. Charlie as well, looks into his faith to impress a girl, who mysteriously rejects him every time. There a lot of sudden twists to the plot, which basically follows Glen down his path to finding his true self. These twists include fistfights, school dances, football games, and even a life-altering event that takes place on a camping trip. These situations all mock real life, and tell the reader that the author has done their homework.…
“To sum up: the book is a pleasure to read. If only teenagers had more time to spend on leisurely activities, then good books like these would be appreciated. Not only is this book entertaining but it also teaches young adults a lesson in life. To cliché, the moral of the story is that you don’t have to be a follower for the rest of your life, unless you’re following God.”
Resource, editor Rick Hiebert (in an article “Whatever Happened to Danny Orlis?”)
“The Best of Friends is a novel for teenage boys centered around a very “ordinary” 17-year-old, Glen who lives in a small town. Suddenly his life is turned around by a fascinating boy who moves into town and becomes his new best friend. This new kid, Charlie, has everything – looks athletic ability, brains, a car, and every girl in town wanting to go out with him. Well, almost every girl. The exception is a knockout who just happens to be the daughter of the pastor, and neither Glen nor Charlie has ever attended church. What’s a fella to do? Read the book.
“N. J. explains what prompted her to write Friends: “What do you do when your sons keep asking for books to read? There just aren’t that many really good Christian books with teenage boys as the central characters.” So she decided to write her own… Get several copies of this book for the library. It’s a winner!”
“All the problems that plague and perplex, without moralizing or religiosity but an honest portrayal of contemporary problems, all leading to Christ.”
Crystal E. Miller
“I’m a professional book reviewer, so when I received this series, I just put them into the “stack.” (There are four in the series. This is Book #1.) The thing is, I really do not receive many books aimed for teens, and I should’ve taken more notice. Lots of page-turning dialogue, Christian POV and real life teen issues make this a great series to purchase for teen readers. So many teen books out there you do not want your teens reading. These you can feel confident to give as gifts.”
Herbie Kuhn, In-house Voice of the Toronto Raptors
“Circle of Friends is a fantastic series! I meet with a lot of teens and speak to a lot of youth groups. I see the things they go through in N.J.’s novels. The authenticity of Glen’s (main character) journey is impressive. I kept thinking how is she going to be able to top this book, but she did, each book got better and better.”
Linda Hall, award-winning author and Christy nominee
“These teen novels don’t sound like an adult writing about being a teenager; they sound like teens writing and living through the challenges of being teens today. N. J. Lindquist has an authentic voice, credible story lines and a gentle, non-preachy way of getting her point across. I recommend the Circle of Friends novels to every teen I meet.”
Neil Anderson, author of The Bondage Breaker, Stomping Out the Darkness, Discipleship Counseling
“Capture the nature of friendship and what that means in this world of trials and temptations.”
Stephen and Janet Bly, authors of 100+ books
“N. J. Lindquist’s entertaining stories deal with a complex mix of teen relationships, moods, and motivations. Glen Sauten captured our sympathies as we rooted for him to stand up and discover himself. His problems challenge and develop his character, move the action along, and provide exciting moments. Lindquist has found the teen voice, but writes to the emotional needs of all ages.”
Stone Croft Book Center
“Our Reading Review Member who read your book was absolutely thrilled! She commented, “This book has the clearest presentation of the salvation message I’ve ever read in a fiction book. (The story is good too!) We realize there are many good books available that do not appeal to young men, For this reason, we really appreciate this one because it appeals to teenage boys as well as girls.”
Alison Piercey, United Church Book Store, Newfoundland and Labrador Conference
“I have a 14-year-old son who never reads. I gave your book, The Best of Friends, to my son and he absolutely loved it. I read the first couple of chapters to him to get him interested. He finished within a week. He thinks he is a lot like the main character. He can’t wait for me to get the other books. This is music to my ears. Thank you for writing for boys of this age group.”
Marilyn Yocum, author and speaker
“I bought this for my 15-year-old and ended up reading it myself. Loved it! A breath of fresh air in the young adult category!”
Darilyn A. Sephton, writer and teacher
“5 Stars is not enough for this Circle of Friends series! I bought the first book in this series for my 14 year old daughter. She read it and loved it so much she (politely) demanded that I get the other three books in the series. I did, and she loved them all. My daughter could not put them down. She was always at the good part, and whenever she was not reading the books she was talking about them! The books handle real-life teen issues in an insightful way – a way that offers hope to real-life teens. I only wish NJ Lindquist would write more of them!”
Susan Brandt, managing editor, Mennonite Brethren Herald
“It’s a good series and speaks to kids where they are at.”
Deb Gyapong, author of The Defilers and former senior producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
“N. J. Lindquist captures the voice of teenaged boys and offers a realistic look at the inner turmoil they face as they find their identity and make moral choices in the light of peer pressure. A master story-teller, Lindquist will hook you with the first couple of paragraphs and keep you reading.”
Zsiporah Moon, director of the KingsBridge School, Canada’s first Christian Arts School with a Classical Education focus
“The students *really* enjoyed these books! They were ‘fighting’ with each other over who got the next one in the series which we have in the school! I have been recommending them to many parents with young people (especially boys)! N. J. is an astute and extremely engaging writer, first class…my opinion, for what it’s worth. My son (age 13) read the whole series straight through…he could not put them down!…and he felt these were real people that he could relate to.”
Joel Comiskey, Joel Comiskey Group
“N. J. Lindquist has a unique gift of using the written word to reach teens for Jesus. Readers quickly learn to care about the realistic characters. The emphasis on discipleship and cell groups shows how teens can be equipped to be leaders in the church. N. J. makes Christianity and Christ come alive.”
Marg Buchanan, author of Famous Jerks of the Bible and Parenting With Purpose
“Teenagers lives revolve around their relationships and N. J. Lindquist knows it. In More Than a Friend, readers live through the confusion, the fun, the betrayal, and the affirmation with Glen Sauten as he learns what it means to be a friend, a son, a boyfriend and a follower of Christ. The situations he finds himself in are not always pretty, but they are real, and teenagers will relate to his struggles as he transitions to adulthood. The importance of a small, genuine fellowship group in Glen’s life is a reminder to all of us of the importance of community.”
Comments from readers
A high school teacher in western Canada
“I teach a class of English 13 students. I call them my rug rats. They are 12 delightful grade 10 students ranging in age from 15 to 18. Two are from China (can barely speak English), four are from Korea (been in the country from between 2 months and 2 years and can barely speak English), six are Canadians (one boy tried to commit suicide last year and is currently suspended for drug use; one has just moved to live with his father here in Canada, from Florida, where he was living with his mother and siblings; one is ADHD and can barely read or spell but has great insights; one girl is very simple-minded and reminds me more of a grade 3 or 4 student by the comments she makes in class; another girl is ADD with overweight problems and low self-esteem).
Why am I telling you all this? I don’t know, but I want you to know that I am reading them two things every day: a short passage of Mark from The Message, and The Best of Friends. They listen to The Message, and they love your book. I wanted to thank you for writing your book. It catches kids who might not otherwise want to read or hear anything from a book.”
A teacher in a grade 4 to 6 setting
“Today I finished reading your book The Best of Friends to my class of Hutterite students. No one was sick of it though. They laughed aloud, in delight, and were on the verge of cheers when Glen and Nicole finally figured out and declared their feelings for one another. In a unanimous vote, the students declared that the school needs to get the next book. So I guess I’ll have to go to your web site and order it. I’d call my students’ response a pretty high approval rating!”
A 16-year-old boy who was not a reader
“Mrs. Lindquist is my favorite author because she wrote a book about me!”