best friends forever

One of Weiner’s greatest accomplishments as a writer is being able to portray simultaneously the strengths and the struggles of her female characters.  The women she creates are not victims or heroes; they’re complex individuals with talents and fears and lives that are, more often than not, messy and complicated. 

In none of her books is this more evident than in Best Friends Forever.  In this new novel, we meet Addie, perhaps my favorite of Weiner’s protagonists, and her friend Val.  The two were best friends for years, until the events of a senior year party tore them apart and made Addie the ultimate high school outcast.  But it’s 15 years later, and Val shows up at Addie’s door, in trouble and asking for her help as if nothing has changed.

Throughout the book, Weiner moves us gracefully from present to past and back again, offering us glimpses of where this friendship began and helping us to understand where these women have come from.  The scenes of their childhood are full of life and humor; during one chapter about a road trip to Cape Cod, the imagery and emotion were so vivid, it was all I could do to keep from jumping in my car and driving east myself. 

The humor carries through to the adulthood scenes, but in these there is also an underlying sadness and uncertainty.  Neither woman is where she wants to be in her life; each has faced hardships and challenges that have left scars.  But in rediscovering each other — and avoiding the law —  both Addie and Val seem to find something that’s been missing over the years.  Weiner portrays the renewal of their friendship sincerely and, at times, hilariously. 

But though the friendship is at the forefront of the novel, and it is Val’s decisions that drive much of the action, the story is in actuality Addie’s — how the ups and downs of her life have largely been driven by relationships and tragedy, and how she has found herself in a position to be able to forgive her friend for her high school betrayal.  Weiner writes Addie as both sympathetic and strong, sad and hopeful.  It’s her ability to do so that makes Weiner the successful writer she is and Best Friends Forever such a compelling and comforting read.

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~ by Molly on August 20, 2009.

One Response to “best friends forever”

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