When Valerie Adler moves in across the road from Addie Downs when they're nine-years-old, Addie believes they'll be best friends forever. However as they grow up and move into their teenage years, a shocking betrayal broke the two friends apart. Fifteen years later Valerie arrives on Addie's doorstep covered in blood after attending their school reunion, worried that she's killed someone. In a desperate bid to stop the police finding out what she did Valerie convinces Addie to go on a road trip to Florida. The two head off but there could be trouble ahead as Chief of Police Jordan is on their tale and desperate to find out exactly what happened that night of the school reunion.
Best Friends Forever is Jennifer Weiner's seventh book but is only the first I've read of hers. I've read a bunch of rave reviews for her books but I've never gotten around to picking one up - until now. I know she has an incredibly loyal fanbase because of her wit, her humour and most of all, the fact that her heroines are all larger ladies than usual chick lit heroines. That was a big plus for me as I enjoy heroines that differ from the norm.
The book opens on the night of the reunion and is told from the point of view of Dan Swansea and at first, it's hard to understand what's really going on - I could tell that whoever it was that had Dan naked in a parking lot obviously didn't like him but for reasons we don't learn of until later in the book it didn't seem to make any sense. It was an intriguing opening to the book and I was desperate to know what had happened. Addie Downs narrates most of the book, including the flashbacks to her and Valerie's childhood. However the book does deviate to the point of view of Jordan Novick, Pleasant Ridge's chief of police as well as sporadic insights from Dan's point of view. It was a peculiar way for the book to be written. I didn't really see what Dan and Jordan added to the book, I personally would have preferred having the entire book narrated by Addie.
As far as the characters go, the only character I could stand was Addie. She was sweet, she was kind and unfortunately, she was a bit of a pushover. Valerie's betrayal may not seem too bad to some people but I could see how much it hurt Addie. So it surprised me how easily she let Valerie back into her life. Valerie could have been a fantastic character but she just seemed far too self-centered to be a likeable or sympathetic character. She waltzed back into Addie's life with no explanation and no real apology and expected Addie would just let her back into her life. The fact that she did made it all the worse, of course. As for the men in the book I just couldn't warm to Jordan Novick, he seemed utterly unlikeable and his "relationship" with Addie seemed forced and rather unnatural. Addie deserved someone 100 times better than Jordan and I didn't want them to get together, not at all. As for Dan Swansea, he was a complete and utter jerk. That's all I'm going to say about him, he doesn't deserve any more words about him.
Not only did I have a problem with the narrators of the book and the fact I didn't really warm to any of the characters, I found the plot to be completely and utterly unbelievable. I can suspend my belief when needed, as I've said multiple times, but with some books it's just so ridiculous that it's hard to do suspend belief. The whole crime factor to the book was so wrong I wanted to scream. To start any kind of investigation into a crime I think you need a little bit more than a belt and a little blood. But no, Jordan Novick launches a full investigation and is determined to find out just why there was blood in a parking lot. Then he goes into Addie's house after she's gone on her road trip with no warrant or anything and searches the place. In any crime novel that would make anything he found in court inadmissable. I also found the attempted robbery laughable and utterly ridiculous. I'm sure it should have made me laugh but I just felt myself cringing at the absurdity of it all. When I'm reading a book I like a little realism and Best Friends Forever really lacked that.
The one thing I think the book did excel at were the flashbacks to Addie and Valerie's childhood, they were incredibly well written and I hugely enjoyed all of the flashback chapters. Jennifer Weiner is very good at building up her characters past and that was a real plus for me. However although Jennifer Weiner is good at crafting a story, I hated the fact that Addie only found love after she'd lost a whole bunch of weight. It reminded me of Jemima J by Jane Green and since I hated the book and didn't even finish it, it's probably not a great comparison for me to liken it to. I hate it when a book sends out the motto that you'll only find love if you're thin.
When I was reading reviews of Best Friends Forever, everyone seemed to liken it to Thelma & Louise. I know the gist of the film but have never seen it myself so I don't know how accurate the comparison is. The book could have been so much more and while I liked Addie and enjoyed the flashbacks, the rest of the book didn't really work for me. What could have been a fun road trip turned into a hybrid of crime novel/chick lit book - two genres that generally don't seem to mesh together.