Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Friendship," by Emily Gould

I love reading novels about friendships, especially friendships between and among women. My own friendships, some very longtime, have meant so much to me. One of the (many!) joys of raising my now adult daughter has been seeing her great gift for friendship, making and keeping and nourishing her many friendships, especially but not only with women, from various times and aspects of her life. So I was prepared to enjoy the novel “Friendship” (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014), by Emily Gould, and mostly I did – simply because of the subject matter – although I wasn’t bowled over by it. Bev and Amy are longtime best friends, living in New York City, now thirtyish. They have each had serious ups and downs in their stuttering careers, their finances, their housing, and their romantic lives. Gould’s portrayal of these often-difficult years in millennials’ lives, especially in today’s economic climate, is one of the strongest features of this novel. These two characters are educated, come from at least middle-class backgrounds, and have been raised to think that they will be able to step into good jobs and prosperous, successful lives; it is hard for them to accept that it doesn’t necessarily work that way. We see how they struggle, doubt themselves, sometimes delude themselves, and are both hopeful and frightened about their futures. When one character is doing better and the other worse, their relationship is threatened, especially at times when one feels the other is not being supportive, or one disagrees with the other’s life decisions. One problem with the portrayal of the friendship, I feel, is that we are told over and over what great friends the two young women are, yet there seems to be something missing, something not quite convincing, about their friendship. Overall, though, this novel is very readable and, despite the setbacks the characters suffer, we as readers feel fairly confident that there will be at least reasonably happy endings for Bev and Amy.
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