three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
43-Nov-Dec-2009
user_rating: 
0

A-Best Friends ForeverBest-selling chick lit novelist Jennifer Weiner has written six novels, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and Goodnight Nobody ( 3 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2006).

The Story: When Valerie Adler, a beautiful weathergirl at the local Chicago TV station, attends her high school reunion, she wreaks revenge on Dan, a former beau who had once treated her badly. But things go awry, and Val turns up bloodstained on the doorstep of Addie Downs, who had been her best friend until Val joined the popular crowd and betrayed her mousy, overweight pal. Addie, now a lonely greeting card illustrator searching for love, can’t resist her former friend’s plea for help. Soon, the women are on the run in a Thelma and Louise-like adventure—and a journey of personal discovery as well.
Atria. 362 pages. $26.99. ISBN: 9780743294294

Hartford Courant 4 of 5 Stars
"Weiner again employs her trademark characters—the smart, cynical overweight woman, the gorgeous but ditzy blond—but gives them new pizzazz, more complexity and fresh insight. It’s a winning combination." Carole Goldberg

NPR 4 of 5 Stars
"If there are any doubts that a work of mere chick lit can be deeply revelatory, Best Friends Forever should banish them. … Addie’s story rates a second (and, perhaps, even a third) read, too, because its unrelenting depiction of loneliness, as well as the myriad ways people can surprise themselves and each other deserve to be savored, again and again." Maureen Corrigan

USA Today 4 of 5 Stars
"It’s all about showing us how [Addie and Val] became the women they are today. As always, readers can’t help but draw on their own memories of growing up, of best friends kept and lost and whether their lives turned out the way they planned." Carol Memmott

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
Jennifer Weiner, another creator of widely popular female characters, injects an element of suspense into her latest. … Ms. Weiner writes comfortably about the real world." Janet Maslin

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"As a fan of vulnerable smartass Cannie Shapiro, the likable heroine of Weiner’s most recent bestseller, Certain Girls, and her breakout novel, Good in Bed, I had trouble warming up to this most recent offering. … [T]he thing I enjoy most about Weiner’s books is their familiarity—how her characters’ concerns, jokes, insecurities and even homes feel like real life, or at least the embarrassingly tame version lived by average middle-class moms like me." Claudia Deane

Critical Summary

Weiner is an unabashed fan and writer of chick lit, but critics generally agreed that Best Friends Forever rises above the genre. Sure, it touches on familiar themes of friendship, love, family dysfunction, physical appearance—all touchstones of the genre—but Weiner delves beyond these issues to explore the growing pains of adolescence—as well as those of adulthood. The novel contains her usual wit, comedy, and emotional wisdom; Addie is an especially compelling "nice girl" creation. Only the Washington Post cited a preposterous plot and far-fetched characters, but even that critic admitted that Weiner’s novel hits close to home on many levels.