For a quick contemporary read, for a female-friendship story, for a look at alcoholism and falling into patterns even when they don’t make you happy and how to break out of it
Growing up, Gwen and Iris were the best of friends, even if they couldn’t have been more different. Now Gwen is living her hometown dream, or so she reminds herself while juggling endless parenting drama, an unemployed husband, and a neighborhood pyramid scheme. Never mind that at age thirty-nine, her social circle still resembles middle school. Her life is everything she ever wanted it to be, but nothing like she had planned.
Iris was never destined for the ordinary. When she moved to Manhattan, she shed her old life for a better one—but not without a cost. From a distance, Iris’s life couldn’t be more charmed, but no one knows about the cracks in the image she’s worked so hard to cultivate. No one knows the real Iris at all. Except for Gwen. But Iris and Gwen haven’t spoken for years. Until…
When Iris’s past catches up with her, she turns to the one person she could always count on—but she isn’t the only one keeping secrets, and as Gwen scrambles to preserve an illusion of domestic bliss, she finds herself wondering when they went from telling each other everything to sharing nothing. Now, a little wiser, and most certainly a little older, Gwen and Iris discover that the truest of friends accept you just as you are, and that loving yourself is sometimes the best way to find happiness.
I went for this book because I had been reading a lot of heavy topics and depressing novels, and I wanted a bit of a break. I more or less got it with this, but it did have more serious issues than I expected. One of the main characters is DEFINITELY an alcoholic, and it’s painful to watch the many terrible decisions she makes. And somehow never admits or recognizes. DAMN, GIRL. It’s really not a whole lot easier to watch the other MC live in her sad rut of a life without galvanizing to do anything about it.
That said, the book is (as you can probably guess) about each of them facing and trying to resolve exactly those issues. The thick of the story relies on their relationship with each other and the secrets that are slowly dissolving their facades. There’s not a whole lot by way of plot, honestly. What is there serves as a foil to learn about them, but doesn’t really stand on it’s own as a compelling aspect. Come here for the characters, not the story they tell.
There’s not really any romantic aspect in this book, despite there being a lot of tension with husbands and other men in the novel. It’s mentioned, it plays into things, but it’s not the core and there’s no big dramatic moments to draw attention away from the two women and their own internal strife.
As for the ending, I guess I liked it? It was tidy, and more or less went the way I wanted it to. Nothing very unexpected. It reflected the way I felt about the book overall: it was fine and did what I hoped it had. But it’s been about two weeks since I finished it, and I don’t remember either main characters’ name, so that should give you some idea about it’s staying power. Grab it for a quick diversion, but probably don’t seek it out for it’s own merit.
Thanks to NetGalley for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!