Title: We Used to Be Friends
Author: Amy Spalding
Pages: 384 Pages
Publisher: ABRAMS Kids
Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel
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.
I am a relatively lucky person. I have never broken a bone; the people in my life who have passed away have been old and have lived very full lives. However, there is one thing that I have been through and the pain of it is something that nearly a decade later I still feel the pain pangs of now. Not as much, they have softened over time but the pain of falling out with your best friend is something that I fail to be able to describe.
It is for that reason alone I am thankful for books like We Used to Be Friends. Amy Spalding shows just how painful a friendship break up can be. In some ways, it is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend because you just expect that your best friend will be there for you. In the story of James and Kat we see the story from two different perspectives and also two different timelines – one going forwards, the other going backwards – and we watch the actions of both of the characters and see how both are in pain but both are at fault. We see these two young women on the cusp of adulthood going into the unknown without their confidant. A scary time already made even more terrifying without the person you rely on most.
I really enjoyed We Used to Be Friends. I did feel that Spalding favoured James as a character and gave Kat some very annoying qualities (like, duh!) but overall, I felt that Spalding portrayed the hurt and confusion in a very realistic way. We can see what both did wrong and maybe it will encourage those who read it to act differently in their friendship groups.
We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding is available now.
For more information regarding Amy Spalding (@theames) please visit www.theamyspalding.com.
For more information regarding ABRAMS Kids (@abramskids) please visit www.abramsbooks.com.