Book Review: Best Friends Forever (Go ahead, laugh)

Posted on August 24, 2010

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I read this book.  It was called Best Friends Forever.  No, it was not a title in the Babysitters Club series.  Yes, I’m reviewing it.  And guess what else?  I enjoyed it.  When I started it I thought, well, I’m a third wave feminist.  I can read this book without feeling ashamed or like I’m selling out because I’m liberated like that.  But then I found myself hiding the cover between my knees on the subway and pulling out a copy of The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag in more literary settings like bookstores and libraries.  So this means BFF (it’s my blog and I’ll abbreviate if I want to) has reached the high plains of guilty pleasure.  I’m ashamed of it and I’m also ashamed to be ashamed of it, and I’m soaking in the irony that at the end of it all, I’m posting a review of this book on the timeless internet.

I don’t frequent the world of chick lit terribly often.  Not that I think it is an inherently anti-feminist genre .  No, it’s really more of a personal preference.  What can I say?  Lack-of-plot with poorly written and gratuitous sex scenes isn’t my thing.  And if I’m being perfectly honest, BFF has a lot of the same faults as other chick lit: the narrative arc is predictable at best, the characters, well, you know them or you could imagine them yourself, and the ending is a denouement for the ages.  Oh and don’t forget the title that you might want to cover with a War and Peace book jacket.

If you must know, the basic story features former high school fat-girl Addie as she is confronted by her past in the form of her former best friend who went from misfit to high school cheerleader Valerie.  (Hold the groan for a second).  So it turns out that Addie and Valerie were always jealous of each others’ families, Addie of Valerie’s seeming total freedom, and Valerie of Addie’s comfortable suburban oasis.  Along the way we meet a football player turned adulterous pastor, a vaguely Christian cult member who brings a rapist jock to his comeuppance, and a cuckolded cop who masturbates to late night episodes of a show eerily similar to Lamb Chops Play Along.  See, now you’re at least grinning, not groaning.

But Jennifer Weiner, why do you write so well?  Why, in this categorically un-me-like genre, have you produced a work of prose that hops along like a jaunty streetcar?  Why is your dialog so exquisite that it feels the characters are acting organically and that you have cut off the puppet strings entirely?  I haven’t a clue; enlighten me.

And while I’m dishing and digging myself into a hole, I’ll freely admit that I read two more of Weiner’s books afterwards: Good in Bed and Certain Girls.  Both tell the tale, in sequence, of one Candace Shapiro, overweight journalist and biological clock-watcher who falls for the diet doctor she turns to after her ex-boyfriend writes about her prodigious size in a woman’s magazine.  Ohhh yes.  Laugh.  And then stash your Jennifer Weiners in your bag to read on long rides.  Just be sure to keep them right next to your Real Housewives DVD sets.

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Posted in: Book Review