It starts out in the 1970s when Kate, a lonely geek with an overprotective family is befriended by Tully, the beautiful, popular, girl next door with a troubled home life. They become the best of friends and together they weather life’s many storms. Somehow they manage to stay friends, though they are polar opposites. I was able to relate to Kate in many ways, but she made me mad most of the time by always playing second fiddle to Tully and allowing herself to be “second best” in her own mind. Tully is a person I could never befriend. Her selfish ambition was hard for me to swallow. The main conflict of this story is that each woman has all she ever wanted in life, and yet it’s not enough for either of them. They each want something the other one has and live with a profound feeling that “something is missing.” One of the points that we discussed during our book club meeting is that each of them could have had the things they wanted, but they did not allow themselves to take those steps. Their relationship was infuriating to me and at several points I just wanted to put the book down, though I suppose the fact that they affected me so strongly suggests well-written characters and familiar subject matter.
Since the book takes place during the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, the author uses that as an excuse to take a stroll down memory lane and makes frequent references to the music and pop culture of those decades, which I found too deliberate and kind of hokey.
One thing that I really did appreciate about this novel is that the author created a real and honorable male character. It seems like the men in many women’s novels are either fantasy perfect or complete dogs. Johnny is neither. He’s a real man, flawed, but ultimately, good.
Overall, I liked this book, but I wouldn’t list it as one of my favorites. We have been using discussion questions from this site during our meetings. Coming up next month: my pick, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.