Author(s): Gabby Dunn and Allison Raskin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)
We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?
If I find out a book is written in an epistolary format–in this case emails and texts–I will almost always pick it up. This is easily my favorite type of writing, and it works beautifully here. I really enjoyed the way this story was written and consumed this in a couple of days.
Ava and Gen are best friends who are going to college on opposite sides of the United States. Ava is staying in their home state of California, staying close to her parents (but still living in the dorms), while Gen is going to school at Emerson in Boston.
The story mostly focuses on the first semester of school. Both girls are going through a lot of changes. Ava is dealing with depression and anxiety in a new environment. She has been on medication for years, and is disgruntled that the therapist she is stuck with is still in training (this made me think of Anna Kendrick’s character in 50/50–a movie I loved). In an attempt to make new friends and step out of her shell, she decides to rush a sorority, even though she knows it probably won’t be the best fit, and starts to date a frat boy. She also makes tentative friendships with other members of the film school that she is attending in order to be a screenwriter.
Gen has come out as bisexual to her friend for the first time and almost immediately starts tenuous relationships with both a girl her age and an older woman who has a position of power over her. She is writing for the school’s prestigious paper with hopes of snagging the permanent position that will open up the following year.
There was a lot to love here. If you’ve ever had a friendship with a polar opposite, you will immediately recognize the dynamics of the girls’ friendship. My best friend is an extreme extrovert. It is her mission in life to make a new friend everywhere she goes. I’ve always been more withdrawn. I wouldn’t call myself a straight introvert, but I definitely need more quiet, alone time than most people and find it exhausting to be around people for too long. So I very much related to their dynamic and thought their arguments and conversations were very realistic. Again, I also really loved the format, as well. I also liked how both the LGBT themes and emotional instability were handled. Even though this is a simple story told in a fairly simple format, there is meat here.
While I found both girls well-written, I found both exasperating. Mild spoilers: Both girls make seriously questionable choices in their romantic relationships. I also hated the way Ava constantly praises her parents while hating on Gen’s. Gen’s father, who has had a drinking problem her entire life, is obviously not awesome, but it felt like Ava was rubbing it in. Finally, I wish Gen would have been a bit more understanding toward Ava and her point-of-view. Gen also makes decisions regarding her college and professional career that made me want to give her a good talking to. End mild spoilers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, easy read that isn’t full of fluff.
*An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own.*