Addie Downs is a shy greeting card designer who is just dipping her toes into the world of blind dating; Valerie Adler is a beautiful weather forecaster working for Chicago’s third-rated news program. The two former friends have long since parted ways, and their lives have diverged on opposite paths. At their 10-year high school reunion, however, Valerie, adventurous and spontaneous, takes revenge on another student and subsequently shows up at Addie’s door for help. Reverting to their established dynamic, Addie, the Thelma to Val’s Louise, agrees to run, fleeing the police, their lives and reality. And over the course of their escape, the two mend a broken relationship and discover what is truly valuable in life: a good friend.
Plot Overview: Friendship, Confidence and Revenge
Growing up, Addie and Valerie were best friends, despite their differences. Addie was the plump daughter of two somewhat eccentric parents, while her older brother, Josh, was immensely cool as a teenager. Valerie was born in California to an emotionally unstable mother and an absent father. When Valerie and her mother move across the street from Addie, the two girls quickly bond over their shared awkward tendencies.
Once in high school, however, their friendship quickly disintegrates. After Valerie, who morphed into a popular cheerleader, is assaulted at a party, Addie comes to the rescue, only to be shunned and dumped. Ten years later, when Valerie shows up, covered in blood, Addie reluctantly pushes aside her resentment to be the supportive friend she once was. The only hitch in their plan to run, though, is police chief Jordan Novick, who is hot on their trail.
Criticisms and Compliments
Jennifer Weiner, the writer of classic and humorous chick-lit novels like In Her Shoes, Good in Bed and Goodnight Nobody, continues her pattern of the triumphant, overweight protagonist in Best Friends Forever. Like Cannie Shapiro and Rose Feller, Addie Downs is a (formerly) hefty woman who easily taps into stores of humor and sarcasm. She is the girl for whom a reader roots, a girl who approaches life with a good deal of wit and skepticism. She is looking for love and fulfillment but is trapped in a pattern of emotional eating and loneliness. With Weiner’s careful guidance, she finds her happily-ever-after, though it is assuredly not typical.
Although Weiner capitalizes on her juxtaposition of the chubby girl in the thin girl’s world with Best Friends Forever, her depiction of family is what really stands out. Addie’s descriptions of her father radiate with love, making Best Friends Forever deeper than typically fluffy chick-lit. Some critics have also noted that Addie and Valerie’s adventures are far-fetched and ridiculous; then again, isn’t that the point of fiction? To escape into a world entirely different from real life?
Overall, Best Friends Forever is an enjoyable read, one that promotes the importance of friends – especially with those from childhood.
- Weiner, Jennifer. Best Friends Forever. Washington Square Press, 2010 ISBN 9780743294300