Jennifer Weiner is not your typical writer of popular fiction. Her slow and dry style causes one to under-estimate her before she starts effortlessly shifting through the gears like an F1 (Formula One) driver. The more you read, the more fun and humor she adds to the telling, making the second half of Best Friends Forever seem much shorter than the first half.
The reader also has fun because we realize that we know these people in real life… The fun-loving and popular Val, the down-on-herself Addie (whom others trust and believe in more than she believes in herself), the punkish and mean Dan Swansea, responsible Jordan Novick… All are as real as the people we went to high school or college with.
I didn’t think I’d say about this about 100 pages into Best Friends Forever, but I can say it now. Count me in as a member of Jennifer Weiner’s fan club!
Thanks to Atria Books for the review copy.
This one was quite a surprise… It started off painfully and ended up as a joy ride!
As the story starts a young woman, Valerie, attends her class of ’92 high school re-union and seeks revenge for something that happened to her in the Fall of 1991. She gets her revenge – in a violent and disturbing way – then heads out to find her former (much less popular in high school) friend Addie Downs.
For the first quarter of this 359-page story I did not think that I’d be able to finish it. The content was a bit disturbing and the characters were not likeable. Then, at some point, we began to focus on the uniquely wacky My Fox Chicago News Team weather girl Valerie Adler. That’s when the real fun begins. We also get to know and identify with the true main character Addie Downs, a woman who at one time was easily two or three times her current weight.
The two friends, knowing that Val is a likely crime suspect, take off together from the small town of Pleasant Ridge, Illinois south toward Key Largo, Florida. At some point, it dawns on the reader that they’re on a journey for the things they need in life. Val needs respect (“You know what the average age of a My Fox viewer is? Dead.”) and Addie needs the male life-partner that she’s never found.
Add to the mix a young and broken-hearted police chief (Jordan Novick) who sets out to find the women on their run from the law, and several former misfits from the old high school – some of whom may be seeking forgiveness and redemption. It all adds up to a recipe for a rollicking good ride down the highway of life.
To be continued… (part one of two parts)