Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friends Like Us, by Lauren Fox

Reading Friends Like Us shortly after The Fallback Plan has made it abundantly clear to me that I should stop reading books about the crises of 20-somethings. I'm just too old to empathize.

Willa, the book's narrator, and her best friend from college, Jane, are a few years out of college, living together in Milwaukee and seriously underemployed. Then Willa runs into her best friend from high school, Ben, who reveals that he was in love with her in high school. Yet, within moments it seems, he is falling in love with Jane. This turn of events proves difficult for Willa, as she sees herself losing both best friends--and to each other. Will Willa make a bad decision? We know she will because Fox told us so in a prologue. The story is predictable, the outcome expected.

If I were 30 or 40 years younger, I might find this an interesting exploration of friendship, how friendships evolve as our lives change, and how our experiences in our families influence our friendships (Willa's parents were less than exemplary and her brother is a mess). Fox is a skilled writer and Willa is a well-developed, pleasantly snarky character, although Jane and Ben are less fully realized. If you like puns, you will enjoy the punning conversations in which Willa, Jane, and Ben engage. And many readers will probably find the book entertaining. Unfortunately, I simply did not care what happened to these characters or what--if anything--they learned about friendship and themselves.

Favorite passages:
I felt I could see inside his heart, and it was a clean, spare place, a room filled entirely with inexpensive Scandinavian furniture.

My brother could break my heart a thousand times a day. . . . He was a superhero of scorn.

And so. Here we are, resting together in the graveyard of my dignity.

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