Wednesday, 1 June 2011

When We Were Friends

Author: Elizabeth Joy Arnold

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Type: Paperback

Pages: 353

First Line: "In high school I came up with fifty-eight ways in which Sydney might die."

Synopsis: From the time they were 7 years old Lainey Carson and Sydney Beaumont were best friends. That all ended in high school. That's when Sydney's new popularity led her to viciously leave Lainey behind.

Now, 18 years later, Lainey is an artist who still lives at home in order to take care of her eccentric mother. One day Sydney unexpectedly shows up in Lainey's life with her infant daughter in tow. Sydney is desperate to find a safe place for her daughter who Sydney says is being abused by the father. Sydney says that Lainey is the only person she can trust her daughter with. Lainey agrees to care for the one year old for a couple of days in order to keep the baby safe.

When Sydney shows up on the evening news that night saying that her daughter was kidnapped Lainey is not sure what to do. Why would Sydney say her daughter was kidnapped? Will Lainey be arrested for the kidnapping? Lainey is forced to run away with the baby and go into hiding. Soon after leaving, Lainey befriends a man who believes Lainey to be the baby's mother who is running away from an abusive husband. He offers Lainey and the baby a place to stay. Lainey and the man quickly become close all the while Lainey is nervous that her secrets will be revealed. But does this man have dark secrets of his own?

My Thoughts: I found it difficult to figure out how I exactly felt about this book. I liked the writing style and the premise was interesting but overall it fell flat. The main problems are that the book is very predictable and the storyline and characters are highly unrealistic, unbelievable and many of the choices made by Lainey are, in my opinion, very irrational.

Quite a few things were venturing into the land of "you want me to believe what?!?". Call me a Negative Nelly but I found it hard to believe that, after almost 20 years of not speaking and literally hating each other, that Lainey would agree to take the baby of her nemesis. Why would Sydney, out of all the people she knows, pick Lainey to care for her child (unless she realizes how naive Lainey truly is)? I had a hard time believing that Lainey could go from hating Sydney for 18 years ... to helping Sydney and taking her daughter. Huh? Lainey had some reasons but I honestly don't think that her deep seated hatred of Sydney would have been swayed quiet so easily. Lainey kept being walked on by Sydney to the point where I wanted to reach into the book and knock some sense into the seemingly smart Lainey.

Sadly, even the baby wasn't believable. I don't know any one year olds who routinely sleep (or even use) an infant carrier. My kids were too big at 6 months of age! And this baby is sleeping night after night in a carseat? Um, no.

Another biggy that was hard to swallow was why the seemingly smart Lainey would go off with a total stranger she met at the side of the road? Has she never watched an episode of Law & Order or Oprah!?! In this day and age what woman would jump into a car with a baby in tow and go away to a total stranger's home in the middle of nowhere?

Add to the fact that I couldn't imagine that this stranger would jump at the chance to have not only Lainey and the baby under his roof but to ship Lainey's agoraphobic Tarot card reading mother up to live with them too. Really? The funny thing is that Lainey's mother, with her agoraphobia and other issues was the most rational person of them all! But Lainey, time and time again, dismissed her mother's advice. I love to use my imagination but there were just too many unbelievable things in this book that just didn't make sense to me.

Overall, and perhaps suprisingly after reading my review, I did like the book. Didn't love it but it was enjoyable. I liked this author's writing style and I'm willing to give her other book a shot. She had a great premise and if she stuck closer to realistic writing and added a few more twists this book could have been amazing.

My Rating: 2.5/5

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