"She was like a sister," Falling with Wings author Dianna De La Garza says of Gomez
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If you thought Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez‘s friendship was over, slow down.

“Demi and Selena love each other and always will love each other,” Lovato’s mom, Dianna De La Garza, says in the new issue of PEOPLE.

Over the past few years, various publications have reported that the former Disney darlings, both 25, have been on the outs.

“First, I would say don’t believe everything you read in the tabloids,” De La Garza, 55, added. “I have read things about myself that I knew were not true.”

In her new memoir Falling with Wings — excerpted exclusively in this week’s issue of PEOPLE — De La Garza opens up about her daughter’s turbulent rise to stardom. Just before Lovato turned 9, she auditioned for and scored a role on Barney and Friends, where she met Gomez and her mom, Mandy Teefey. The mother-daughter duos became fast friends and would carpool, taking turns shuttling the girls to and from auditions.

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Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez on Barney and Friend
| Credit: Everett

“She and Demi were auditioning for the same things because they were the same age, they were both Hispanic, they both had dark hair — so she ended up going to a lot of auditions with us,” recalls De La Garza. “They started out together! We had some great times together. They will always will love each other. There’s nothing that will ever come between them.”

De La Garza adds that Gomez became part of their family in Colleyville, Texas, where she lived with husband Eddie De La Garza and daughters: acting coach Dallas, now 30, and former Desperate Housewives actress Madison, now 16.

2011 Teen Choice Awards - Arrivals
Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez
| Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty

For much more on Demi Lovato’s mom, Dianna De La Garza — including an exclusive excerpt of her new book — pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.


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“Selena spent a lot of time at our house when she was growing up,” adds De La Garza. “At one time, I was home-schooling my girls and her mom was working, so she would come over and home-school with my girls, and it was some of the best times of our lives. She was like a sister to my girls!”

Lovato and Gomez’s friendship appeared to hit a rough patch in 2010: When a fan asked Lovato, “How’s Selena?” the singer responded, “Ask Taylor.” And fans speculated the duo had a falling out over Gomez’s close friendship with BFF Taylor Swift.

Lovato — who is now on tour with DJ Khaled — has since opened up about her relationship with Gomez.

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Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato (October 2017)
| Credit: Donato Sardella/Getty

“We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve had periods of times where we grew apart and we just didn’t really talk,” Lovato previously told MTV. “I think we realized that life is so short and that when you have people in your life that love you so much, then you should just always be around them.”

In recent years, the pop stars have taken to social media to support each other’s new music, send happy birthday wishes and even share reunion selfies. And in October, Lovato and Gomez reunited at the InStyle Awards, where they posed for photos together.