Friday, August 14, 2009

Review: Best Friends Forever

Summary: Some bonds can never be broken...

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-gone best friend standing there, a terrified look on her face and blood on the sleeve of her coat. "Something horrible has happened," Val tells Addie, "and you're the only one who can help."

Best Friends Forever is a grand, hilarious, edge-of-your-seat adventure; a story about betrayal and loyalty, family history and small-town secrets. It's about living through tragedy, finding love where you least expect it, and the ties that keep best friends together. -- Atria

I am a huge Jennifer Weiner fan, and I have been very anxious to read her latest book - BEST FRIENDS FOREVER. I think I first got hooked on Ms. Weiner's novels when I read GOOD IN BED many years ago. I appreciated how the book made me both laugh and cry, and I just loved the characters too. Since then, I've read everything I could get my hands on that Ms. Weiner wrote; and I've enjoyed all of them for very different reasons. Ms. Weiner is just an author that I can count on.

I was so excited that BEST FRIENDS FOREVER appeared in my mailbox just days before I was scheduled to go to the Jersey Shore. What could be better -- sun, sand, and a Jennifer Weiner book? I had read some early press about the book and my expectations were clearly high. I am always drawn to books that deal with female friendships, so I had a feeling that I wouldn't be disappointed. I'm happy to say that I did enjoy BEST FRIENDS FOREVER -- it was a terrific book to read at the beach. Having said that, it wasn't my favorite Jennifer Weiner book; but if you are a fan of hers like I am, then it is definitely worth picking up and reading.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book were the characters. All of Ms. Weiner's books seem to focus on female relationships of some sort, but this book was specific to the friendship between Addie and Valerie. Addie and Valerie were best friends in school before they had a falling out. They hadn't been in touch for years, and yet Valerie turned to Addie when she was in a serious heap of trouble. While it first appeared that Valerie was depending on/using Addie to help her; by the end of the book, I could see that their friendship benefited both of them in so many ways. In fact, I'm not so sure that I don't think that Addie was the lucky one because Valerie helped Addie to become a happier and more complete person!

When I first started reading this book, I immediately fell in love with Addie. (I think it started with the letter she placed on her refrigerator before she left for a blind date.) In so many ways, Addie was just beaten down; and yet, I felt that she was a strong person who would eventually find some happiness. At times, I wanted to kick her for not sticking up for herself against Valerie; however, it would have been like kicking a lost puppy. I just had to keep reading and hope that everything would eventually work out for Addie.

On the other hand, I pretty much couldn't stand Valerie. I'm pretty sure that was the intent, because she definitely seemed like a shallow and selfish person. It took me about half of the book before I started to warm up to her and appreciate her. Even though I wasn't exactly fond of her for awhile, I had a feeling that she was just what Addie needed. I loved how Addie and Valerie's friendship brought out the best in both of them -- isn't that what good friendships are all about anyway?

And it really wouldn't be a Jennifer Weiner book if it didn't make me laugh. There was a lot of humor in this book, and I found myself chuckling out loud more than a few times. What I also love about Ms. Weiner's books are how much they touch my heart. I can't say that I actually cried while reading BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, but I did want to give both of the characters big hugs. I definitely get emotional when I think about this book because I really like how it demonstrated the value of women and their friendships.

I highly recommend BEST FRIENDS FOREVER for book clubs to read. It is a quick and fun read, yet it also touches on some serious issues which are prime for discussion. Some topics for discussion include friendships, faith, obesity, illness, and forgiveness. There is a reading guide for this novel with fourteen questions, but Simon and Schuster also has some book club tips specific to the novel which are sure to make your meeting extra-special. In addition, I found a wonderful interview with Ms. Weiner about her latest novel which might enhance your reading experience as well.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book!

18 comments:

Amy said...

Your review is great, thank you! I have read many of Jennifer Weiner's books but I have to admit I didn't like "Little Earthquakes..." as much as her first 2 books so I was wondering about this one. You have allayed my concerns!
It's awesome that the publisher sent you a copy and smart of them since you're reviews are clear, comprehensive and honest.

I really enjoy your blog and look forward to your posts. I'm sorry I don't comment more. I'll rectify that. I'm still getting used to the "book blogosphere" and how much there is to do!

Amy

bermudaonion said...

I think I've read one Jennifer Weiner book, but I'm not sure. This one sounds good to me because I love books about female friendships and I love books that make me laugh.

Lauren said...

Great review! I just got a copy of it, but have yet to crack it open. I've only read "In Her Shoes," so i'm excited to read another book by Weiner. She's very talented.

S. Krishna said...

Oh my gosh, our reviews of this book are so similar! I loved Addie and wanted to shake her for letting Valerie run all over her. And I couldn't stand Valerie! Great review!

Jo-Jo said...

Thanks for the review Julie. I haven't read anything by Weiner yet, but I do have this one on my coffee table at home that I had won, so I probably will read it. Like Kathy, I love those books that are themed around female friendships.

Jonita said...

I LOVED "Good in Bed" and the follow-up to that one "Certain Girls". I've been desperately trying to get my hands on a review copy of this one (my library recently aquired it, but is taking their time putting it on the shelf!) but when I do, I can't wait to read it! Thanks for the honest review!

Valarie said...

I've been looking forward to reading this book and now I'm even more excited to buy it! I'm currently working through "Good in Bed", and sharing other Jennifer Weiner books with my mom and sister. We're all huge fans, and often end up leaving post-it notes for each other about sections that really speak to us. There are so many themes in her books that really touch us, and this book sounds like it will offer more great discussion points.

Thanks for the great review and for whetting my appetite even more to pick up this book!

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Nice review! I love Weiner as well. It will be interesting to read about this re-kindled friendship. Glad to know that she's still funny!

Julie said...

I agree that this wasn't her best (for me that's Little Earthquakes) but it was still enjoyable. I always love her books. She's just as charming in person.

Dar said...

Great review Julie. I'd love to read this one of these days. I haven't read one by her yet although I don't know why-her books certainly sound really good.

Jersey Shore Deb said...

I just read this book on vacation too! I agree that it wasn't Weiner's best, but it was enjoyable. I, too, got a kick out of Addie and was "rooting" for her throughout the book.

Laura's Reviews said...

Great review - I also enjoyed this book!

http://lauragerold.blogspot.com/2009/07/best-friends-forever-by-jennifer-weiner.html

Allison said...

Thank you for the review on this book! I have been wanting to know if it was any good. I have borrowed "Good in Bed" from the library as my first Jennifer Weiner experience. I may try "Best Friends Forever" afterwards!

Carrie K. said...

I'm just a little way into my review copy, but already enjoying it very much. I haven't read anything by her before, but will definitely plan to now!

Enid Wilson said...

It sounds like Val has a horrible experience. Thanks for a great review and link to tips to read it at a book club. Definitely worth checking out.

Bargain with the Devil

Anna said...

I received this book, too, but haven't read it yet. I haven't read any of Weiner's books, but I think I have a few on my shelf somewhere that my sister passed on to me. Sounds like a good book, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Beth F said...

The combination of humor and a story of friendship sound great. I don't think I've read any of her books.

Jenners said...

I do enjoy Jennifer Weiner's books and I'm looking forward to getting this one ... I still have her previous one to read though!!!