High school hormones and politics, combined with drugs, kidnappings, and sleuthing gets you a rough outline of what to expect in Stephanie Tromly’s Trouble is a Friend of Mine.
Zoe has an interesting start to her new town and school…namely she skips the first day of classes and winds up meeting Digby, who sets her life on an altogether different path from what she had planned. Living with her recently divorced mother in a “safe” town, Digby lets Zoe in on his investigation into a missing teen girl, Marina. Not even sure if she wants to be friends with him, Zoe gets drawn into Digby’s scheming, even if it’s just to be contrarian. Her friendship with Digby is more solidified through Henry, Digby’s long-time friend and a “heroically handsome” football player. With Digby as the ringleader and mastermind, Zoe and Henry help to solve the mystery of Marina’s disappearance and uncover a potentially drug-dealing, human-trafficking cult in the process.
The story was captivating and filled with witty banter to complement the characterization of Digby and Zoe. I appreciated how the romance element of the narrative was handled, as it helped to maintain a sense of realism in the world of sixteen year olds while utilizing the construct of friends becoming more. As a coming of age story, it had all the right hallmarks for Zoe, but the story wasn’t really about her despite her being the narrator. Rather the story is about Digby and his life, which Zoe gets drawn in to being a part of, yet there were still so many secrets. I could relate to Zoe at some points in the narrative, but at others her obvious people-pleasing manner was too cliche to take seriously; and while I found Digby entertaining in his powers of deduction and quickly spouted-off theories, he was rather too manic and impulsive for Zoe to realistically have trusted him as she did.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.