Release date: 2009 / 359 pages
Synopsis (from back cover): Addie Downs and Valerie Adler will be best friends forever. That’s what Addie believes after Valerie moves across the street when they’re both nine years old. but in the wake of betrayal during their teenage years, Val is swept into the popular crowd, while mousy, sullen Addie becomes her school’s scapegoat. Flash-forward fifteen years. Valerie Adler has found a measure of fame and fortune working as the weathergirl at the local TV station. Addie Downs lives alone in her parents’ house in their small hometown of Pleasant Ridge, Illinois, caring for a troubled brother and trying to meet Prince Charming on the internet. She’s just returned from Bad Date #6 when she opens her door to find her long-lost best friend standing there, a terrified look on her face and blood on the sleeve of her coat…
First line: “Dan Swansea came awake in the darkness, not knowing for a minute who he was or where.”
Review: I know many of you fellow readers had the same excited sense of anticipation when you first heard that Weiner’s latest was coming out this summer! I was even more excited when it arrived on my doorstep barely a week ago… I have read all of Weiner’s work and devoured her latest in a matter of days, as usual.
If you read the plot synopsis, you only know the premise, but not the gift that Weiner’s writing endows — intricate, complex, ambivalent characters who will stay with you for years. And, by the way, Addie may be mousy, but she is never “sullen” (whoever wrote that must have skimmed?!). Addie is poignant and sensitive and strong — even when at her weakest. Her best friend, Val, is harder to love but serves as an excellent foil for Addie and propels the narrative with her energy and spunk.
Now, if you have read the publicity reviews, I will warn you that I do not agree that this is a “hilarious caper” or a funny take on “Thelma and Louise.” For one thing, it’s really not that funny (and shouldn’t be!). Much of the book is about how our appearance affects our identity (familiar theme with Weiner), how loneliness can lead us to act in ways we later regret, and how redemption comes in many forms. Sound funny? Not to me… But that doesn’t mean this novel is depressing — it’s not.
In many ways, this is Weiner at her finest with regard to creating characters you can’t help but love. On the other hand, is Best Friends Forever my very favorite of hers? No… but I still do recommend it to all other fans of Weiner’s work.
Interested in winning a copy? Simply leave me a comment and I’ll draw a winner by the end of the week…