This book was like a breath of fresh air. While many of the YA books I come across are extremely fun to read and deal with characters in their natural setting, the book We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding was on a whole other level. The main characters – Kat and James – jumped off the pages and literally seemed like tangible human beings and not just make-belief characters in a book. I related bits and pieces of my own personality and traits with both Kat and James throughout the book and therefore found myself immensely engaged throughout.
The plot of the novel revolves around 2 girls Kat and James and their friendship. They’ve been best friends ever since kindergarten but now that it’s senior year, they find themselves drifting apart. It’s a gradual and painful process since they both thought that senior year was going to be the best year of their lives. Instead, James’ world is completely overthrown and she is no longer sure of what she believes in. Kat, on the other hand, falls in love with the perfect person and devotes all her time to her new relationship. While James is a girl of few words, Kat is exactly the opposite – she is always sure to make her presence known. As a result, as the months go by, James finds herself being pushed to the sidelines by Kat’s new friends and has a hard time coping with her new life adjustments. Kat feels this increasing distance as well and tries her best to make amends, but always seems to fall short. As a whole, this book tells the story of a beautiful friendship crumbles to pieces and how sometimes nothing can save a relationship (even the perfect ones) from coming to an end.
I particularly enjoyed the narration style of this book. Each chapter was set in a different time frame and this was not necessarily chronological on order. While one chapter could be set in December of Senior Year, the next may be set in August before Senior Year, and the next in October after Senior Year. As a result, the entire book felt like a big puzzle to me with each chapter being a unique puzzle piece. Events were mentioned that I had no clue about, but found out about later in a different chapter. Thus, I seemed to have a vague idea about what had happened, but not exactly the details of the event. This feature made it quite a unique read and because it was so well written, not confusing at all (Unlike one of my latest reads The Revenge Playbook).
I especially loved how this book highlighted the ups and downs of a beautiful friendship. It also touched upon the importance of family and finding one’s place in the world. We often find ourselves (I know I do) taking people for granted because we think that they’ll be there for us no matter what. What we forget, though, is that we have to reciprocate that feeling of safety towards them as well (does that make sense?). While reading the book, I frequently caught myself evaluating my own relationships with the people around me and more often than not, picking out my shortcomings. I think that I, as an individual, gravitated towards and found myself relating a lot more to the character of James and see how things could end up for me if I don’t put in that effort. I’ve been through messy friendship breakups as well and I knew exactly what the characters felt. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a heart wrenchingly beautiful story and that I didn’t let a few tears escape every now and then.
I’ve never read a book like this before and if you’re looking for an absolutely magnificent and cleverly written YA novel, look no further!
– Just Another Magical Soul
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