This is a little (224) book that packs a real punch. I’m always intrigued to jump into a National Book Award Winner and when I saw this on my library book club “to read” for next year, and as I struggle to climb the peak of my cannonball, I saw a win/win opportunity to get this one checked off.
If you judge a cook by its cover and see a swell dog, fun covers, and a sweet title you are going to be sorely disappointed. Also, if you are looking for something heartwarming and light to enjoy over the holidays, please keep moving. The Friend is a raw, dire, heartbreaking look at suicide, those that are left behind, and the agony and work of grief.
It reminded me of watching the movie “The Break-Up” with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. I recall the trailers for this made it look like a zany comedy, and I mean, with Vaughn and Aniston surely it would be funny. Wrong wrongedy wrong wrong. “The Break-Up” was like watching two actual people who had been in love break-up with each other and it was honest and interesting and hard to watch.
So, take that sort of heart and soul and make it a book about a woman who is trying, halfheartedly at least, to pick up the pieces following her friends suicide and take care of her friends’ dog, and you’ve got The Friend. It was interesting and engaging and so I don’t think the accolades are misplaced, but it is a “taking your medicine” sort of read. Plus she takes some chances describing a relationship between another person and his dog that is a bit…alarming? I’m still not sure what to make of that whole angle.
Suffice it to say it’ll be a good book for our book club to discuss, and I’ll be puzzling over it for a while, but I’m not sure it’ll jump up my “to recommend” list.