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Book Review: Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

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In Best Friends Forever, obese, shy Addie is reunited with Valerie, an old neighbor and friend after nearly 15 years of silence. The reunion may not be so welcome, since Valerie made Addie the joke of their high school and shunned her to fit in with the cool crowd. Now, when Valerie suddenly shows up on Addie's doorstep asking for help, the two women are forced to come to grips with their friendship's awkward past and forge a new future. It doesn't help that Valerie, after accidentally hitting the former high school jock, flees town with Addie, thinking that she's a fugitive for murder. It isn't long until police chief Jordan pursues them.

Best Friends Forever is set up in a style reminiscent of Jodi Picoult. The narrator switches between a first person narrator, Addie, and a third person narrator that focuses on Jordan and the more thriller-suspense aspect of the novel. This makes the flow seem a little awkward at times and detracts a little from the wonderful female leads in the novel. While Jordan is an interesting character that has plenty to offer, he simply is less interesting to readers than the lead duo of Addie and Valerie. The novel could have been even better if some of the detail about Jordan was dropped altogether and focused exclusively on the ladies.

Also, readers need to pay close attention to the story since it frequently shifts between past and present events. The flashbacks have purposes and helped to develop the characters perfectly, but sometimes it feels like there is too much emphasis on the past and not enough on the present plot line. Despite this, Best Friends Forever is laid out very much like a movie – much like a Thelma-and-Louise type movie. The movement between scenes feel like something that a director might do with a script, to make the story work for viewers. This makes the novel feel modern and accessible to many readers.

This book was a phenomenal read. At its heart this novel is highly literary with heavy romance, a dash of suspense-thriller elements, and most of all, heavy friendship themes. Weiner writes intelligent, fluid prose that moves with ease and never leaves a reader bored. The story moves quickly and weaves together elements of the past and present together almost seamlessly. Weiner's female lead characters are also compelling, complex and believable. Readers can feel every grain of truth in Addie's painful loneliness, laugh at all of Valerie's quirks, and still burst into tears on the next page of this emotional novel about the bonds of unbreakable friendship.

The only issues seemed to be around the ending. While it was unexpected, some of the final elements worked out a little too easily. The thriller-suspense aspect of the story, while thin to begin with, fizzled out almost completely and leaves the reader feeling a little cheated since that plot line never seemed to come together.

Overall though, Best Friends Forever is a delightful, emotional novel that's perfect for summer poolside reading. This is chick lit at its finest and lightest, but with just enough heart to make it come alive.

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