Best Friends Forever- The Sunday Salon

I was nine years old when I met my best friend- the same age  as Addie Downs(protagonist in Jennifer Weiner’s new novel, Best Friends Forever)   when Valerie Adler moves in across the street.  Like Addie, I was round and plump, eager to please and slightly fearful of life in general.  My friend, J., on the other hand, was more like Val – slender and lanky, stubborn and feisty.   Our friendship worked mostly because of my quiescence, for few others girls could handle J.’s rather demanding nature.  

 bff_smbl Best Friends Forever  is one of those novels that see-saws through time, so although the thrust of the action takes place in the present, we see Addie and Val’s friendship evolve from their first meeting as children into their teenage years where they become estranged following an incident during their senior year in high school.   Flash forward to the present where Addie, living alone (and lonely) in her parents home in the suburbs of Illinois,  is searching for a meaningful relationship.  Meanwhile, Val has become a successful television personality at the local station.   One night, out of the blue, Val shows up on Addie’s doorstep.  “Something horrible has happened,” she tells her long lost friend, “and you’re the only one who can help.” 

Reading Weiner’s novel has set me thinking about friendship, why it works and why it doesn’t, the way it changes over time, and the sometimes mysterious way friends move in and out of our lives.  My friend J. and I drifted apart rather naturally…we married and had children about the same time, but our adult lives diverged into different interests and circles.   Yet, on the morning I learned my parents were getting divorced, she was the first person I called.  “What should I do?”  I asked, reaching out to the girl who had spent countless days at my house, who my mother often referred to as her “second daughter.”  Although we were both adults, we had shared so much of our childhood that it seemed natural to turn to her when that childhood seemed to be disappearing forever.

The connections forged in childhood are quite powerful it seems, for Addie is  pulled inexorably into Val’s predicament, tossing aside the wiser instincts of adulthood and plunging headfirst into Val’s scheme to escape the consequences of her current actions.  These two women are the perfect example of the way true friends can support one another through all of life’s vicissitudes.

Best Friends Forever  came to me courtesy of Simon and Schuster – it’s only the second Weiner novel I’ve read and  it’s a perfect read for a summer’s day.  The plot line seems a bit contrived in spots – but the characterization isn’t, and I can forgive a less than stellar story line if I become emotionally attached to the characters.    I’m only about halfway through, so I plan to spend the rest of my Sunday afternoon with Addie and Val, learning how this adventure of theirs will play out, and if their friendship will stand the test of time this go round.

Now tell me, is there a childhood friend who has drifted in and out of your life?  Or one you might like to connect with once again?   Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of  Best Friends Forever  for your very own.  A winner will be chosen at random on  Friday, July 31, 2009.

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18 thoughts on “Best Friends Forever- The Sunday Salon

  1. Best Friends Forever sounds like a great read. I’ve known my friend Tracy since we were 2 years old. We went to Elementary School together until I moved away. We always stayed in touch and then in high school were back in the same school again. We were best friends again until she and I both went away (to different) to college. Now it has been over 40+ years. We are both busy moms, working, etc. We have definitely drifted in and out of each other’s lives. I’m hoping when are kids are grown we will have more time to be friends again. Please enter me in the drawing for the book…I’d LOVE to read it!!

    • My friend J. and I have drifted quite far apart – our kids are now all grown up and I’m afraid we’ve lost touch completely. But one never knows…someday we might re-unite! I hope you and your friend will as well.

  2. I need to read a relaxing summer read. What have I just finished? Columbine!

    I had a friend that lived right across the street from me from the time I was born until we moved just before I started first grade. Her name was Sally Ann and she was wonderful. She was the youngest in her family and I was the oldest, so her brothers and sisters taught us everything about the Beatles and pop culture and life. I kept visiting Sally Ann every summer for years and years and years, going swimming with her, going to baseball games, dressing like hippies, writing lots of letters, and then we grew up. I didn’t see her after that until about ten years ago, when her parents had their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Same old Sally Ann. I was so happy to see her.

  3. I feel quite envious of people who have brought friends with them through their lives from childhood. I have many wonderful friends but all of them date from my College years onwards. I think I was far too bookish as a child and not one to be out and about playing. It was only when I got into an academic environment that I started to meet people who didn’t think I was weird!

    • Ann, how lovely to see you back on line! I have just been at your new “home” at the same moment you’ve been visiting me here.

      I was quite lucky as a child to have some very bookish friends. We spent lots of time visiting the library and lying around our rooms reading. I know that’s quite rare.

  4. That sounds like a fun book. When I was 5, we moved to a new neighbourhood and I quickly became friends with the girl who lived across the street. We were best friends until about middle school age when the grade difference between us (though only 6 months) got big. We kept encountering each other though in youth groups, and on my first day at university in a city a few hundred miles away I bumped into her, also attending the same uni and in residence in the same building a few floors above me! We met and separated throughout our 20’s in similar ways, making an effort to stay connected though she then moved a 3 hour flight west. Every time she came to town we got together. About 8 years ago she came back to this city and ended up living just around the corner! So here we are. There is something special about being middle-aged and friends with someone who remembers you at 5.

  5. Lynne was my childhood best friend, and I wish I still spoke to her more than now and then. We had so much fun. Neither of us were particularly well-behaved little girls (or big girls) but our antics yielded more than a few great stories.

    Btw, you are a winner in The Unit giveaway. Forward me your mailing address?

  6. Great review! I met my best friend when I first moved into the town where I grew up. She was the daughter of the realtor who sold us our house. We did drift apart and back together over time, but we still have managed to stay close somehow despite living very far apart. I can’t really think of too many other childhood friends I’ve kept in touch with.

  7. How neat to become friends with the realtor’s daughter – that way you had a built in friend as soon as you arrived. Glad to hear you’ve kept in touch.

  8. I keep acquiring friends, loving new people. But I don’t lose those who are foundational friends — the ones who have known me for a very long time. We have to hold true to them, I think. They hold, in them, part of us. They remember for us.

  9. For a long time I maintained a pen-pal relationship with a friend I made as a 9-year-old in Germany. She stayed with us when I was a teen, and visited her family the following year, and we wrote long letters well past our college graduations, only drifting apart after she married someone that none of her friends particularly like. In general, though, moving around as much as we did was hard on long-term friendship. My closest friends now are the women I’ve met as a stay-at-home mom.

    Jennifer Weiner has always been one of my favorite authors — this sounds like a book I should plan to pack if we can ever get away to the lake. Thanks!

  10. What a lovely review, and it sounds like a delightful book. I was late in getting a best friend, and she’s the one person I have completely fallen out of contact with. But I had four other friends I went to school with and we are all still in contact, even if we don’t manage to get together so very often. There is a special relaxation in being with someone who’s known you since the age of 11 – you never feel you have to pretend with them.

  11. My husband is stil in close contact with his best friend from elementary school…in fact, he and his wife our two of our best friends, and we are godparents to their daughter. I love seeing them together, and looking for the vestiges of the little boys they once were.

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