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.
Not only had We Used To Be Friends been on my radar for the last couple of months, but it was a total surprise to get this stunning read sent to me. I definitely was thanking my lucky stars! So, as always when I’ve got an incredible read just waiting for me in my TBR pile, I dove in as soon as I got the chance! It took me a little longer to finish than normal, only because I was also learning to drive at the time and getting prepared for a practical test – which I passed! (Now a fully licensed driver, yay!) So I was delighted that I could finish this beautiful read with a smile on my face. . .
I’m a huge fan of dual POV’s, especially when they’re both as captivating as James and Kat’s voices. Sometimes when you’ve got two different voices (and two different timelines going back and forth) it can get very confusing, but in We Used To Be Friends, this isn’t the case at all. In fact, the way that the past and present are told to us are woven effortlessly, displaying how the future is a certain way, because of an event in the past.
As characters, I much preferred James, in the past and future tense. Whether it’s because her voice spoke to my own as her character, or because in parts I found Kat’s character not as striking as James. Kat has a more child-like voice, to me at least, that sort of distanced her relatability to myself. Although there were many things that I loved about her personality, and her character development was the best of the two. James had such a way of roping me into rooting for her, whereas Kat had my feelings on the line hoping for her. In between their dual POV’s, we see their friendship – at it’s strongest, on fire, then weakening, to non-existent, then thriving and all the inbetween – and it’s above anything, a tale about how people can grow. For their friendship, for themselves, and to grow up alone before they can grow back together. And it’s about the things beyond friendship, from family struggles to first love and disaster and finding your balance as a teenager preparing to take on the world.
Overall, despite feeling in parts that I wished it’d picked up faster, I found myself turning pages oh-so-fast and getting reeled deeper into the story. Friendships in YA have always been one of my favourite tropes, especially female ones, and having the pleasure of reading this one was no different to my other favourites. I loved the story from beginning to end, making it a bittersweet, powerful four-star read perfect for YA readers with a soft-spot for besties.
Have you read We Used To Be Friends?
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