A novel about two friends learning the difference between getting older and growing up
Bev Tunney and Amy Schein have been best friends for years; now, at thirty, they're at a crossroads. Bev is a Midwestern striver still mourning a years-old romantic catastrophe. Amy is an East Coast princess whose luck and charm have too long allowed her to cruise through life. Bev is stuck in circumstances that would have barely passed for bohemian in her mid-twenties: temping, living with roommates, drowning in student-loan debt. Amy is still riding the tailwinds of her early success, but her habit of burning bridges is finally catching up to her. And now Bev is pregnant.
As Bev and Amy are dragged, kicking and screaming, into real adulthood, they have to face the possibility that growing up might mean growing apart.
Friendship, Emily Gould's debut novel, traces the evolution of a friendship with humor and wry sympathy. Gould examines the relationship between two women who want to help each other but sometimes can't help themselves; who want to make good decisions but sometimes fall prey to their own worst impulses; whose generous intentions are sometimes overwhelmed by petty concerns.
This is a novel about the way we speak and live today; about the ways we disappoint and betray one another. At once a meditation on the modern meaning of maturity and a timeless portrait of the underexamined bond that exists between friends, this exacting and truthful novel is a revelation.
Gould's debut novel follows Bev and Amy as they transition into their 30s and a kind of stilted adulthood. The book opens with Bev on her way to an interview at a temp agency she has dropped out of grad school before completing her M.F.A. and is stuck in the kind of low-rent existence typical of recent grads. As the novel progresses, Bev finds out she's pregnant following a one-night stand; meanwhile Amy's life, which has been insufferably charmed to this point, likewise starts to fall apart. The girls are forced to reevaluate their places in the world and their friendship. Gould's novel is admirably, readably realistic she knows these girls and the world they live in (including the omnipresence of technology and the way that it pervades relationships). In places, however, the accuracy of Gould's prose takes away from the book's ambition and reach. The plot is least successful when it strives for revelatory connections, as when Sally, a wealthy wife struggling to conceive, is slid conveniently into the narrative like a lucky puzzle piece. Still, Gould nails the complex blend of love, loyalty, and resentment that binds female friends. It is worth reading for the richness of its details (at one point, Amy is overwhelmed by the desire to put an engaged coworker's wedding ring in her mouth), and it offers new insight into the experience of young women.