★★★★ (4 stars)
Synopsis from Goodreads: Bev Tunney and Amy Schein have been best friends for years; now, at thirty, they’re at a crossroads. Bev is a Midwestern striver still mourning a years-old romantic catastrophe. Amy is an East Coast princess whose luck and charm have too long allowed her to cruise through life. Bev is stuck in circumstances that would have barely passed for bohemian in her mid-twenties: temping, living with roommates, drowning in student-loan debt. Amy is still riding the tailwinds of her early success, but her habit of burning bridges is finally catching up to her. And now Bev is pregnant. As Bev and Amy are dragged, kicking and screaming, into real adulthood, they have to face the possibility that growing up might mean growing apart.
Despite giving this book four stars it’s easier to say what I didn’t like about it than what I did. When I first started reading it I thought “first world problems!” because so many of the main characters’ dilemmas do seem to be that, at least initially – to employ the classic cliche they don’t appear aware of “how lucky they are”, especially as I read Friendship right after Carys Bray’s A Song For Issy Bradley which deals with the death of a child. However, as the plot moved forward and things grew more serious for both characters I felt much more sympathetic towards them. I also had a few issues with the narrative structure of the book – it is told in the third person although it jumps between the perspectives of Bev, Amy and their new friend Sally – and covers quite a long period of time (around a year, with flashbacks to memories of Bev and Amy earlier in their friendship) but in fairly short chapters so that I felt I was moving between snapshots of the women’s lives when I would rather have been more immersed in them.
That said, I enjoyed Emily Gould’s writing style, the novel was easy and pleasant to read and I wanted to pick it up, to keep reading and find out what happened. I liked reading about characters my age (although their single New York lives are a world away from my countryside SAHM one) and think that many of my friends who are young “urban professional” women would be able to relate to them even more than I did. Friendship captures well that late 20s/early 30s feeling of thinking you “should” have “made it”, or at least be stuck well into a set career path and success by now; as well as the reality that many of us are not, at 30, living the lives we imagined we would be by this point when we started university 12 years ago. Bev and Amy’s friendship was well-handled too: the build-up of their closeness to the point of comfortable daily contact followed by awkwardness when their lives began to diverge is something many of us will be able to relate to.
(This is my 200th blog post!)