Friends Like These – About the Book
New York City. Summer 1983. A summer internship in New York was meant to be everything Beth wanted. But from the moment she arrives in the city she feels wrong: wrong hair, terrible clothes, defective smile, too obviously a virgin. Sharing a hot, cockroach-filled apartment with a couple falling out of love completes the dream picture. Then she meets her fellow interns: ambitious out-of-towner Dan, preppy rich boy Oliver, and Edie — a beautiful, brittle, magnetic, instant best friend. Irresistible people are like gravity. You can’t help being pulled towards them — can you?
Friends Like These by Meg Rosoff is a Young Adult book, but don’t let that stop you from reading it. It is a [mostly] well-developed story of a young woman’s first summer away from her family in New York City. There is grit in the form of her initial cockroach-infested apartment along with the sweltering heat that almost becomes a metaphor for the friendship that the main character, Beth has with her best friend of the summer, Edie.
The book focuses mainly on the development of this friendship. Beth’s uncertainty of not originally being a New Yorker and Edie’s narcissism make for an interesting contrast. You will initially love Edie’s antics and how she “saves” Beth from her seemingly difficult existence in the sweltering apartment that she first moves into. You will then see a shift in their relationship and how, perhaps, that first best friend may not have your best interests in mind at all.
The visual writing really gives you a sense of what New York in 1983 must have been like, and Rosoff’s writing really captures the essence of the time touching on issues like crime and AIDS. You also see an evolution in Beth due to every experience that she encounters, both good and bad, during her time in the city. The child of Holocaust survivors, but not having a deep knowledge of her own parents’ suffering, makes this coming-of-age tale particularly poignant.
The characters in Friends Like These may be young, but you can see very adult themes in the story. It’s relatable whether showcasing the life-cycle of an exciting friendship or capturing the excitement and uncertainty of the first steps in a career. Some of the characters aren’t as fully developed as they could be, but overall, the book is ideal for the hot days of summer. Friends Like These is a very fast, enjoyable read and we highly recommend it for all ages.