Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends.
Young Adult, Contemporary
PART OF A SERIES?:
January 7th 2020
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Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.
First off, can I start this review by saying I’m massively impressed that Amy was able to not only write an entire book in dual point of views, which is hard enough, but also wrote it in opposite timelines as well. As a writer, I’m lucky if I remember my character’s name, what their purpose is and what tense I’m writing in. I was constantly blown away with how she managed to create a story that goes in opposite directions and still have the reader wondering what on earth happens. It was a brilliant way to write things and seriously, I read this book back in September and I’m still blown away.
Second, I had something like this happen to me. I had a best friend from the time I was seven years old until I was about…twenty-three, twenty-four and our friendship just imploded. We’ve tried to fix it once since then but we just couldn’t make it work. That break up, that dissolution was more painful than the break up of my ex and I and we’d been together for nearly seven years. A friendship break up is painful. I think as people we’ve grown to accept that not all relationships last forever but friendships are supposed to last forever and it really hurts when they end.
Amy perfectly captures that feeling. I feel it SO hard. I relate to James so hard. Watching your friend grow away from you, with someone else who is more important – god, I felt that. I felt the struggle of her going through her parent’s separation and preparing for the future and feeling like she has become second fiddle to everything in her best friend’s life. I think I had a hard time with Kat because she felt like my ex-best friend and so I was frustrated with Kat for much of the book. Amy wrote her really well, she did, but maybe because I was connected with James so MUCH, I had a hard time understanding Kat’s side of the story. On the other hand, there might be people out there – my ex-best friend, for one – that will connect more with Kat than James. Either way I really think that Amy does such a fantastic job of showing the heartbreak and disappointment that comes from a longtime friendship dissolving. I really, honestly felt it and it was almost hard to read at times because of how REAL it felt.
All in all, I’ve always loved Amy’s novels – she really captures emotions so well and I honestly think she did this once again with this book. She captures high school and uncertainty and she captures new romance and romance ending and great friendships and dissolution of friendships and I just honestly love this book. I think every person has had a friendship breakup at least once in their life and I think they’ll honestly really relate to this book. This happens so slowly, the way it happens in life, and that is what makes it so good. It’s not a big blow up, its not one thing but its a build up of things that you get in forwards time and backwards time and its just a seriously emotional, well-written book. When you all get $$$ and gift cards for Christmas, I recommend picking it up on January 7th.
5 out of 5 Stars