Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

September 20, 2010

Plot summary (with spoilers): Addie Downs was a quiet, shy 9-year-old who always had trouble making friends — until that fateful day when Valerie Adler moved in across the street. The two instantly became best friends, and stayed that way until senior year of high school when some terrible event drove them apart.

Now it’s 15 years later, and Valerie suddenly shows up at Addie’s door one night. She’s in trouble and needs help, which Addie only slightly hesitates before giving. Valerie explains how she was just at the class reunion and decided to get some “revenge” on a former classmate named Dan Swansea — whom it turns out she left naked in the parking lot of the country club where the reunion was held. Oh, and she might have hit him with her car.

Addie has a bit of trouble taking all this in, but understands the situation better after driving out to the scene of the “crime” and hearing more about it from Valerie. The good news is that Dan is no longer in the parking lot or in any of the ditches in the immediate area. The bad news is that now they have no way of finding out what happened to him. They decide to just return to Addie’s house.

The police get involved the next day when a country club worker finds a belt and a pool of blood in the parking lot. The chief, Jordan Novick, starts questioning people from the reunion, and figures out that the only one missing is Dan Swansea. He then tries to find out who might have held a grudge against Swansea. He comes up with the name Jon Downs, Addie’s brother, which sends him to Addie’s house for questioning.

Addie manages to get through the initial grilling without problems, but then Valerie convinces her they need to flee Thelma & Louise style. So that’s what they do, and T&L style it is, right down to a “bank robbery”. Through the rest of the book, we learn what caused the high school fight between the two girls, what they’ve been doing since then, and where their futures seem to be heading.

Liked:

  • All of the parts dealing specifically with the friendship were well done. I like reading about friendships, especially when they go wrong and get patched up again, and this was no exception. Too bad the patching up wasn’t the main focus of the story.
  • Addie was an interesting character. I felt bad for the high school version of herself. The stories of nighttime eating were heartbreaking, as were the anecdotes about how badly she was bullied by classmates because of her weight. I loved that she turned things around as an adult by exercising, taking the best fat burner out there, and by watching what she ate. It did take Val to get her out of her shell more fully, though, so credit goes to her too.

Disliked:

  • I wish there had been a few more heart-to-heart moments between the two women as adults. It seemed that they just slid back into their old routine so easily, without really rehashing what went wrong with their relationship the first time around.
  • The book became far too ridiculous in a couple of places — the “bank robbery” scene being one of them. Sorry, but in the post-9/11 world, there’s no way in hell something like armed robbery would be taken lightly. I mean, people can’t even mention “bomb” at an airport, yet some woman’s going to go through the motions of robbing a bank (down to having a gun) and the teller will just act like she’s in on the joke? Yeah, right.
  • The Dan Swansea religious conversion was a waste of time and slowed the pace down to a complete halt whenever the POV switched to him. There was never any reason to cut away to Dan at all, IMO.

Rating:

I usually like books about friendship, and did actually enjoy the parts of Best Friends Forever that dealt specifically with Addie and Val. But overall, the content veered off in far too many different directions for my taste, and ended up not being a very cohesive piece. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

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