There are no spoilers in this review.
We Used To Be Friends, Amy Spalding
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’ve been waiting for FOREVER for YA books centered on friendships and especially friendships break-ups, and ESPECIALLY friendship break-ups between best friends. I’m just so so, so happy this book exists, both on an universal level, because aside from all the romances and family relationships, we need to explore friendships and their complexities, and on a personal level, because…. having gone through friendships break-ups, it’s, aouch.
- I really loved the unique way this story is told: two POV, one going forward and one going backwards, allows us to see the growth and gradual, painful changes in Kat and James’ relationship as they go through their last high school year.
- I loved both main characters.
- My preference went out to James, because I could relate to her a whole lot. I have to say this: she doesn’t drink and THANK YOU finally a character that doesn’t drink or want to drink any alcohol and it’s OKAY. We need these storylines too thank you very much. James is organized and likes having a plan and she’s thoughtful and also kind of in her own head a little too much and I could relate to her, a lot.
- Kat was a great main character, too, even if I wasn’t as into her as I loved James. Kat is more exuberant, dramatic, she’s the popular girl, though she’s kind of hiding her grief behind this facade. One thing I liked about her was her journey with finding herself and her sexuality, too. I also loved seeing her grow as the story went on and take responsibility for the mistakes she makes, too.
- My favorite thing about We Used To Be Friends is definitely the focus on friendship. Despite the presence and exploration of other relationships, both romantic and familial, the focus is on Kat and James’ relationship as it changes. As, with the passage of time, new people entering their lives, personal things going in between them, secrets and distance… they grow apart. It’s slowly heartbreaking, made stronger by the back and forth storytelling, the ups and downs in their relationship.
I HAD A HARD TIME WITH…
- The only little drawback in We Used To Be Friends, is also, paradoxally, one of its strength: the way the story is told. We have Kat’s story, going forward from September to August of their senior year. We have James’ story, going backwards from August, to September of their senior year. The storylines perfectly complete each other, but I found myself being a bit confused as to when everything happened and going back often to the chapters’ headline to replace myself in the girls’ relationships.
If you’re looking for a book focused on friendships and friendship break-ups, We Used to Be Friends is a must read and one I know I’ll be recommending for years. With its strong storytelling and great main characters, it captures how heartbreaking the slow, growing-apart-part of relationships can be, yet how, sometimes, it’s also a part of our lives, too.
Final rating: 4,5 drops!
A million thanks to Abrams Books UK / Abrams & Chronicles Books YA UK for the ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.
Trigger warnings: loss of a parent and grief, cheating, drinking.
Diversity: bisexual main character, lesbian main character, POC side character.
Did you read We Used To Be Friends? Do you want to?
Do you know any other books with a great focus on friendships? Let me know in comments!