The title of Meg Rosoff’s new novel – Friends Like These – should be seen as a warning that things will be dark, and somewhat sordid. Certainly, the cockroaches are not fun. But I suspect Meg knows of what she’s writing. Unlike her heroine Beth she wasn’t 18 in the 1980s, but most of us were 18 once, and Meg will know what a hot summer in New York might have entailed. Sweat, cockroaches, drugs and sex. And friends.
Sort of friends.
Beth meets Oliver and Dan, and her new best friend Edie, when she arrives in Manhattan for an internship as a wannabe journalist. It’s about being rich or poor, Jewish or WASP; knowing your way around or learning as you go. Edie knows everything, and Beth is happy to let her lead, to have a new, really good friend.
I’m sort of Beth, and I wonder if Meg is too, but I couldn’t possibly tag along like that, agreeing to every crazy idea Edie comes up with. Beth works hard, and has to play even harder, just to keep up.
I loved most of this book. As you’d expect. Perhaps not that part in the middle where I was sure Beth would be going straight to hell. But after that I was able to see what Beth was capable of, and Edie too, and I could breathe again.
Is this a YA book? Not sure. It’s about teenagers, doing teenagery stuff. But it’s historical, too, and I wonder if the doings of the 1980s are more for us who lived through those times, than 18-year-olds today? Beth is an innocent behaving like a mini adult. And Edie, well…
It is interesting, this seeing how others live, be it the non-judgemental Beth or the manipulating Edie.