Wednesday, October 28

Best Friends Forever - Jennifer Weiner

Addie Downs had never fitted in, and with the exception of her older brother, nor had her family - all the other father's dressed in a suit and went to work, but hers made toys and was frightened by loud noises, and none of the other mothers were as big. But Addie loved her parents and these things never bothered her like they did Jon. But when Valerie moved into the house across the street Addie found a new friend - she had no father, her slender mother was impulsive and fun, and the girls hit it off. Firm friends until senior year, one night and one boy not only turned Addie into a social pariah but also ended the friendship.
Until fifteen years later, on the night of the high school reunion, an uncharacteristically panicky Valerie arrived on Addie's doorstep at half past ten. Taking revenge for that long ago night, Valerie may have killed the man who ruined Addie's life and now she needs her old friend's help.
Best Friends Forever combines Addie's present tense narration with chronological flashbacks through her life, and third person accounts of Pleasant Ridge police chief Jordan Novick, called from his quiet night in his empty house to investigate a pool of blood and discarded man's belt in a parking lot. As the stories of Addie, Valerie and Jordan unfurl and intertwine we learn more about them and their histories.
One element I particularly liked, and that is under-explored in life and fiction, is the tension infertility and IVF create in relationships - as is often the case in life, the combination of sex on demand purely for the sake of procreation, and one party wanting to stop trying well before the other, ends a marriage, and I thought the way this was portrayed, including the aftermath, was particularly well described. Sadly I read this a wee while before completing the review, so all I have to conclude with is that I quite enjoyed Weiner's latest novel. - Alex

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