Doesn’t this title just make you want to dive into this book to figure out what happened to these friends? It seems like such a loaded statement to me, I couldn’t wait to read this book and learn more about it. Thankfully it was on NetGalley and they sent me an earc in exchange for an honest review!
Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.
I really, really wanted to love this book, for a couple of reasons. The first is that I saw and chatted with Amy Spalding at a book convention where she was promoting this book. It sounded super interesting and I couldn’t wait to read it, and when I saw it on NetGalley it seemed like kismet! The second reason is because, like so many others, I’ve gone through a friendship breakup of my own. The third reason is that I was excited to read a book that was so focused on friendship rather than romance.
So, needless to say this book was pretty self-hyped for me, and I think that was part of this book’s downfall.
I really don’t have strong feelings for this book one way or another. I really love the premise of the story, the queer representation, the characters, the relationships, and the realistic feels of everything. I personally had my most memorable friendship breakup at the same time as James and Kat, and like these two it was just two people growing apart. I think the timing here with the characters learning more about themselves, life, and getting ready to go off to college was incredibly relevant and perfect.
All the relationships in this book were real and raw. While I really liked how Spalding approached James and Kat’s relationships with each other and other characters, I especially love how she wrote each girl’s relationship with her parents, and the way each girl perceived the other’s relationships played a big part in this book. That being said, I really did like the romantic relationships in this book. There’s lgbtq representation here and I love Logan with all my heart.
Despite all of this I just wasn’t really able to get into the book. I found myself accidentally skimming parts of it, the timeline was pretty confusing because I kept forgetting what month it was, and parts of the book just felt so drawn out with too little happening.
I know this happens in real life, but so many of James and Kat’s problems could have been helped with more communication. I definitely understand the realities of it, but reading their internal complaints got a bit boring after awhile, so it would have been a better read if more had actually happened.
In the end things still felt so unresolved, which definitely happens in a friendship breakup, but this combined with the confusing timeline left me feeling like the book wasn’t finished. I literally went to the next page expecting another chapter but it was the acknowledgements. The last chapter was nice, I just really wasn’t used to the altered timeline thing and it threw me throughout the whole book.
Basically, there’s a lot I appreciated about this book but the way it was told had me feeling a bit bored and a lot confused. I would still recommend reading this, especially if you’ve been through your own friend breakup, but I would go into it with some small reservations and a tip to pay close attention to the timeline.