Title: Best Friends Forever
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from Shelf Awareness
First line: Dan Swansea came awake in the darkness, not knowing for a minute who he was or where.
Best Friends Forever is the first of Jennifer Weiner’s books I’ve read – and I can’t believe how much I was missing! I guess I have a preconceived notion about books that are categorized as “chick lit” – I expect them to have no substance. This book had substance, along with great humor and wonderful characters.
Addie Downs has lived in Pleasant Ridge, a suburb of Chicago, most of her life. When she was a girl, Valerie Adler moved in across the street, and the two became best friends. High school changed things, though: Valerie became a cheerleader; Addie gained weight. When a horrifying event takes place that tears the two girls apart, their friendship is broken, it seems, irrevocably.
Fifteen years later, Addie is still living in Pleasant Ridge, in the house she grew up in, which she inherited from her parents. She’s now thin and has a career she loves – but she’s still alone. When Valerie shows up on her doorstep the night of their 15th high school reunion, Addie doesn’t know what to think – especially when Valerie confesses that she thinks she may have killed the man who destroyed their friendship all those years ago.
I loved Addie. I could completely relate to her issues with food and self-esteem. She’s loyal – and her loyalty was what caused her senior year to become a complete nightmare. My heart ached for the bullying and persecution she was subjected to – and I had a hard time liking the character of Valerie very much at first, because of her part in the whole thing.
As the chapters alternate between the present time – and Valerie’s wild plan to fix whatever she might have done to Dan Swansea – and their growing-up years, I came to a better understanding of why Valerie became who she was, and why she needs Addie.
Even though this novel deals with some pretty heavy issues, it is filled with humor. I love books that can have me laughing out loud one minute and my eyes welling up the next. This is that kind of book. I don’t know if Ms. Weiner’s other novels are like that, but I plan to find out.