|The Girls from Corona del Mar
3 / 5
"'You're going to have to break one of my toes," I explained."
A fiercely beautiful debut blazing with emotion: a major first novel about friendships made in youth and how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or sustain.
Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can't quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend's life. Until a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall apart further-and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, kind, brave Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is and what that question means about them both. A staggeringly arresting, honest novel of love, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship that moves us to ask ourselves just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.
This book had so much promise, I thought. It being about a pair of best friends who grew up in the '90s. But, ultimately I just wasn't sure what I was supposed to take away from it. Perhaps it was that Mia needed to learn to define herself separately from this woman who was once her best friend but had become a stranger? But she seemed to rely too much on schadenfreude*, which seemed to make her a truly bad person when she considered Lorrie Ann her best friend. Especially when she claims to have always considered Lorrie Ann "the good one" and considers the issues of who deserves what in life.
And I struggled with the crux of this book, which seemed to revolve around whether a woman has the right to kill her child - not just have an abortion, mind you, but to put a living child (in this case, one suffering day in & day out from CP) out of his misery. The arguments on both sides were difficult for me to read. Perhaps it would be different if I were a mother, but I do wonder: would I be swayed by love to keep a suffering child alive, or to mercifully "save" him? Oh gosh, this book made me never want to have to find out that answer! What a difficult situation. I can't even.
The book makes me wonder at Mia, as she struggles valiantly to hold a friendship together which proves increasingly difficult to even remember was once solid. Perhaps it is for the same reason she studies ancient translations of cuneiform: she wants to see everything as a story, something that's already happened, and isn't as good at looking at the here & now. I don't want to get too far into the story because it's easy to give big plot points away, but the reader has a difficult time telling if they were EVER truly best friends. What little we see of their "inseparable" teenage years isn't all that rosy, I don't think. Hmm, I wonder if the struggles of the friendship is why the book is titled "The Girls from..." and not "The Best Friends from..."
Overall, an interesting book, but I kept wondering where it all was going. What small points the author made seemed to be shoved in at the end there. However, these girls are personalities which I don't think I will soon forget.
*Holy crap I just checked, and I spelled that right on the first go!
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