Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Reading on a Theme: Losing a Friend

The end of a friendship can be so painful. A book might help. Here we have five YA books about losing or nearly losing a friend.

James and Kat:
At the beginning of their senior year, James and Kat are best friends. By graduation they aren't speaking. Amy Spalding tells the story of the disintegration of their friendship. We Used to Be Friends is told in alternating timelines. Kat's timeline moves forward in time and James's moves backward. The plot becomes a puzzle that the reader tries to put together, but what becomes clear as the timelines converge is that neither James nor Kat is completely at fault or completely blameless. Both characters are unlikable at points in the story, are both are also dealing with external circumstances that impact their well-being and friendship. Published January 2020. Review copy from NetGalley. 

Cleo and Layla:
Y.O.E. You over everyone. Layla has been Cleo's best friend since she was twelve-years-old. They start sophomore year as close as ever but slowly their friendship implodes. By Christmas it's over. Ashley Woodfolk's sophomore novel is so excellent. She tells the story through Cleo's eyes and alternates between the past and the present. Although, told from Cleo's perspective, it's clear that Cleo made some huge mistakes too. The dual timeline grants us access to the breakdown of the friendship but also to Cleo's recovery. A friendship breakup can be so devastating, and I love that I ended When You Were Everything feeling like, although they went through a lot, both of these characters are going to be okay. Published March 2020. Review copy from NetGalley. 

Ellory and Ret:
Bex, Jenni, and Ellory were three stars rotating around their sun: Ret. But then everything fell apart. See All the Stars takes place in two timelines. In the earlier timeline Ellory has three close friends and her first real boyfriend. In the later timeline she has no one. So what happened? Kit Frick's debut is a story of (borderline?) toxic friendship and a massive falling out. It's a great concept. Friendships end and not all friendships are healthy. And a friendship breakup comes with its own mourning process. Kit Frick's writing is really lovely. It's the kind of writing that gives you that melancholy feeling in your chest. I was struck by it right away. Published August 2018. Review copy from NetGalley.

Denver and Abigail:
Only an invitation from her crush could get Denver to attend a party hosted by her ex-best friend Abigail. She very quickly regrets that decision when a tsunami hits the coast of California. Now Denver is adrift in the Pacific ocean on a boat with four people who hate her, including Abigail. Kathy Parks sees your friend drama and takes it up several notches by mixing it with a survival story. The history between Denver and Abigail is inserted periodically throughout, and the reader gets to see how they became best friends and how it all fell apart. The fight for survival is no less harrowing, but maybe a life or death situation is the only thing that can bring these two back together? A+ for The Lifeboat Clique. I really enjoyed it. Published March 2016. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Willa and Flor:
Best friends Flor and Willa are keeping secrets from one another. Willa kissed the boy next door, who is also Flor's ex-boyfriend, and she doesn't know how to tell her. Flor isn't telling Willa about all the trouble she's having at home with her dad's new girlfriend. These types of secrets are enough to break a friendship. Unlike in the other books on this list, there's no outright fighting between friends in The Me I Meant to Be, but sometimes the things that aren't said can be just as destructive as the things that are. Sophie Jordan's book also has not one but two swoony romances.  Paperback out March, 31 2020. Review copy from NetGalley.

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