Young teenager Phyllisia Cathy is the narrator of the novel The Friends by Rosa Guy. It tells the story of the Cathys, a West Indian family who relocates to New York City's tough Harlem neighborhood in the 1960s. Phyllisia has trouble adjusting to this new world, and most of her classmates hate her because she becomes the "teacher's pet." Although Phyllisia eventually makes friends with Edith Jackson, she is ashamed of Edith because she is the poorest, worst dressed student in her class. Phyllisia's life hits a new low when her mother, Ramona, reveals that her breast cancer has returned and eventually dies; this leaves Phyllisia and her older sister, Ruby, under the strict rule of her father, Calvin, who is not afraid to use violence to make his point.