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Friends Like Us


Friends Like Us

In a prologue that sets up a mystery about a friendship so intriguing, readers absolutely must keep turning the pages to find out what on earth happened, Willa Jacobs is actually remembering a hilarious shared moment with her long-ago friend and roommate, Jane, when she suddenly spots Jane herself in a line at the bank. Jane, her baby and Willa go for coffee. Willa's hands shake as she flirts with enchanting baby Gus and tries to read Jane's expression. Willa hasn't seen Jane in five years, and she is cut to the quick when Jane mentions her marriage, job and other things in her life. "Things you lost the right to know about." (While Jane does not say those words to Willa, Willa nevertheless hears them loud and clear.) Willa is not surprised when Jane mentions that she was devastated the last time they were together. Jane goes on to tell Willa that she has hated her. It’s plain that Jane does not forgive Willa and that they will not resume their once-glorious friendship.

"FRIENDS LIKE US is sure to resonate with anyone who has experienced regrets and complications in a super-close friendship."

Now we emerge into the past of Willa's story, into the easy joy of sharing an apartment with Jane, who is nearly Willa's twin physically, and spiritually and emotionally the yin to her yang. Jane, a compulsive neat-freak who works as a housecleaner, is tidying up around messy Willa, while informing her that she will not attend Willa's eight-year high school reunion with her, no matter how much Willa pleads. Willa dreads this occasion and can't imagine why she agreed to go. The only thing she enjoyed about high school was leaving it behind --- and her nerdy best friend Ben, whose company made those painful teen years bearable.

Imagine her shock when, as she endures the dreadful reunion, she spots Ben. His walk is just the same as it was during high school, but everything else about him is completely different. He is no longer the "weird little wombat" who once accompanied her everywhere, the one she hasn't seen in years. In fact, he's tallish and not only has a chin, but also has somehow sprouted a jaw: "He's Ben Kern, for sure, but new, improved Ben, Now with Bone Structure!"

Seeing Ben again reminds Willa of how he stood by her, comforting her when her parents divorced. She follows him out into the night where he stuns her with the revelation that, during the years of their friendship, he was in love with her. Soon Willa and Ben are kissing…but it’s not right. It’s so not right that Willa feels like she could be smooching with her grandmother for all the platonic, passionless, unromantic love she feels for her old buddy. This disconnection certainly seems to be mutual, so when Ben eventually meets Jane, Willa is not too discomfited at the sudden, immediate electricity between her two friends. At first.

FRIENDS LIKE US is sure to resonate with anyone who has experienced regrets and complications in a super-close friendship. Willa eventually voices a stunning conclusion about her own motivations --- a savvy, to-the-point commentary on her nature that just might trigger a bout of reader soul-searching. This is a story filled with true-to-life people complete with their messy relationships and salted with hilarious word play and other witticisms that flavor but don't take away from the poignancy of the plot. To sum up: Pure. Enjoyment.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on February 16, 2012

Friends Like Us
by Lauren Fox

  • Publication Date: February 14, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 030726811X
  • ISBN-13: 9780307268112