“The secret about falling in love is how you can do it a million times over with the same person, when the person is the right one.”
Read in February 2020
Honestly, I don’t give 1-star rating easily but this book was dreadful and every single part of it was a disappointment. According to the blurb, in We Used To Be Friends we follow James and Kat, two childhood best friends, during their senior year of high school. We know even before starting this book (the title says it all), that it will tell the story of their falling out of love and it really intrigued me because it’s not something often told in YA books and yet such a big part of teenager life. Personally, I had a friendship break up with my 8 years long best friend at the end of High School, so I totally could relate to that kind of stories. Needless to say, I had huge expectations before starting reading and still today, I can’t believe I literally have nothing nice to say about this book. Every inch of it felt wrong and unnecessary. I disliked this book so much that I don’t even know how to do a proper review of it, so I’ll try to list with everything that went wrong in my opinion.
★ The unlikable characters
James and Kat were so difficult to like. I enjoy reading about flawed and grey characters, actually, I call them my favourites, but they need to have some traits that make me want to root for them. Here, Kat and James didn’t have even one relatable positive personality trait. Kat was so selfish, and she seemed to be a good friend only when there is no love interest in her life (which did not happen a lot). I get it, when you are in a serious relationship, you have to divide your time differently, but Kat multiplies flings and ends up neglecting her friendship with James every time. It really made me feel like James was here stopgap when no one more interesting was here. Also, I hated that she called James “dork” every two sentences.
“It’s like I’ve been your therapist. You dump all over me and then you don’t even stick around to reciprocate. At least therapists get paid. I’m just doing all of it for free.”
On the other hand, James was really mean to everyone. To Kat, yes, but to her parents as well, and I got tired of her using the excuse of her parent’s divorce to justify her actions. Also, I’ve never seen anyone lying that much to their so-called best friend. I was a bit bothered by her ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude, for instance, the fact that she kept being friends with Kat’s ex when she would have hated for Kat do to the same with her ex (and then saying ‘but it’s not a fair comparison’) really annoyed me. Friendships need to be between two equals or the will not work.
★ The messy timeline
I usually enjoy books with dual timelines, however, the event in We Used To Be Friend didn’t follow the usual Before/Now pattern where each character was in charge of telling one side of the story. All the chapters were named after a month and a year -mostly during their senior year- that, to me, had no coherence whatsoever. If I understand correctly, James’ chapters were telling the story backwards starting after graduation, whereas Kat’s chapters were in chronological order starting from the beginning of the year. Honestly, it didn’t make sense for me and I had to stop several times to remember when was the action taking place. It made the story really difficult to understand fully as I couldn’t precisely picture (or even blurrily) the timeline of events that lead to the decline of their friendship.
“When you don’t know the right thing to say, maybe it’s time to listen instead.”
★ The lack of friendship
The timeline could have been clearer if we actually saw when James and Kat were actually friends VS when they weren’t anymore. However none of the chapters actually shown their friendship. I think the author tried to show too many intermediate parts and forgot to focus on the reasons of their actual friendship existed because even those happening at the beginning of the school year, before anything really happened to explain the dissolution of their friendship, there is no sign of their love for one another. They were mean, annoyed, irked at one another, but I never witnessed the genuine love that could have made this story believable. I don’t care if best friends have nothing in common or if best friends are super similar, but in this friendship, Kat was a full-on attention seeker, and everything about her life was drama. She even said things she didn’t mean just to be reassured, I really hated it. I found the perfect quote that said “Kat’s a little self-centred. I worry there’s no room for you in your friendship”, so accurate. But also, James seemed so detached with anything related to Kat and she didn’t even try to answer more than two words after Kat’s monologues, so like, really, it’s kind of fortunate that Kat speaks enough for the both of them. It’s even more frustrating when you realize that ALL their problems would have been resolved with simple honest communication.
★ The LGBT Relationship
Even though it was one of the main reasons I picked this book, I was really bothered by the bisexual representation in this book. It didn’t feel realistic to me – but I’ve read reviews that said otherwise, so it’s probably just me that don’t identify with it, and keep in mind that my review reflects my own opinions and you are allowed to disagree with me. Other than the fact that Kat realizing that she was bisexual felt unrealistic, the relationship itself made me feel nothing. There was no chemistry between Kate and Quinn, and that was a shame, but Kat was her usual toxic self. Never acknowledging and listening to Quinn’s insecurities, like Quinn couldn’t complain because compared to her, she was perfect. Even that word, ‘perfect’, show how realistic this book was. When you love someone, you love every part of them, even their flaws. You see them but you love them still.
“It was really scary for me and you refused to see it. You couldn’t see that I’m a person standing here, not some perfect girlfriend you conjured up.”
★ Nothing happened
Outside of the drama, NOTHING HAPPENED in this book. It was SO repetitive. We get it, Kat is a selfish and bad friend, James is a withdrawn and bad friend, can something actually happen now? Because the drama is not carrying the plot. The ending was in line with the book; unsurprising and unsatisfying. Also, I want to throw out there one last complain, WHAT IS UP WITH CONTEMPORARY TITLES THAT ARE ALSO TITLE OF SONGS? That song kept playing in my head.
Have you read or will you read this book?
What did you think about it?