We Used To Be Friends
Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel   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.  

We Used To Be Friends Details

TitleWe Used To Be Friends
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 7th, 2020
PublisherAmulet
Rating
GenreContemporary, Young Adult, LGBT

We Used To Be Friends Review

  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars because right book, right time. I went through a gradual yet intense friendship breakup over the latter half of 2019 and We Used to Be Friends got me in all of my feels, like every single one of them. Amy Spalding’s novel follows James and Kat, childhood besties about to start their senior year of high school. They both have life stuff going on: James broke up with her boyfriend and her parents are separating, Kat is dating a girl for the first time and is adjusting to her dad looking 5 stars because right book, right time. I went through a gradual yet intense friendship breakup over the latter half of 2019 and We Used to Be Friends got me in all of my feels, like every single one of them. Amy Spalding’s novel follows James and Kat, childhood besties about to start their senior year of high school. They both have life stuff going on: James broke up with her boyfriend and her parents are separating, Kat is dating a girl for the first time and is adjusting to her dad looking for romantic love too, and both are applying to college and waiting to hear back. What I love about this book is that unlike in most stories, James’s and Kat’s other relationships take a backseat to their friendship, which acts as the center of this story. In sections that move both forward and backward in time, we see how their friendship falls apart over the course of a year, the care they both gave and then lost. I’m super emotional both because of my friendship breakup in late 2019 and because friendships have been both the most beautiful relationships in my life and my most devastating breakups, so I’m just gonna write this review in list form, what I loved and how it relates to my late 2019 friendship breakup. Yay for a book review that combines both a review of a book and over-disclosure of the reviewer’s personal life memoir! I so appreciate how We Used to Be Friends captures: 1) how friendship can mean so much to someone. At their friendship’s strongest, James and Kat were always there for each other, they texted each other every hour, they told each other everything and they understood one another even with just a look, a glance. There’s an energy to a close or best friendship that is so undervalued, when you find a close or best friend who you feel excited every time you talk or text with them, who you know will consistently have your back. Spalding captures this dynamic even in small phrases, like when James is texting Kat and she thinks to herself, “I realize as I see the three dots on her end how relieved I am that her impending response is almost immediate.” This dynamic reminded me of my of my friendship with the friend I broke up with during our first year of friendship a few years ago, when we would have these text conversations that flowed with energy and vibrancy and how much I enjoyed that. Even though I have another friend who I feel that way about now, I still miss and cherish the time I had with my ex-friend where we once had that same intensity of connection.2) how the rules of friendship can be hard to figure out. Spalding shows this difficulty in a flashback scene of James meeting up with Kat and Quinn, Kat’s new girlfriend, at a diner. James thinks to herself “… it seems like Quinn is suddenly my best friend’s new best friend. Am I immature for how much dread that possibility fills me with? I know that a best friend isn’t the sort of relationship where you make explicit promises and set expectations, the way you do with a boyfriend.” I related so much to this thought process, because I experienced it too. When my ex-friend started dating her boyfriend, and even before she started dating him, she had a template to follow: find him on a dating app, date him, tell her friends about him, invite him to events with family, post about him on social media, get engaged to him, etc. Yet, for our friendship – a friendship in which I encouraged her to go to therapy for the first time, in which she supported me through my adjustment to graduate school – there was no template, no milestones to achieve. And even though we tried to set expectations, in the end they collapsed, especially in contrast to the resources our society invests in romance. Spalding shows, through James and Kat’s friendship, how friendships would benefit from more thorough communication, expectation-setting, and friendship therapy. 3) how romance is prioritized over friendship. Spalding’s portrayal of this twisted my gut so hard. She shows how, when Kat and Quinn started dating, how that shifted Kat and James’s friendship. It’s not like Kat never asked James to hang out or that she wasn’t there for James, and yet, their dynamic still shifted. I felt so grateful for how Spalding captures James’s disappointment, even the subtle things, like how Kat would want to hang out with Quinn more or obsess about Quinn more to the expense of Kat’s zest in her friendship with James. In the scene where James meets up with Kat and Quinn at the diner, she thinks to herself that “it’s like life sets up boyfriends to be the most important thing in a girl’s life.” While this thought process and the progression of Kat and Quinn’s relationship aligns with the idea of amatonormativity and the patriarchal prioritization of romance overall, I am glad that Spalding highlights how this devaluing of friendship can play out even in nuanced ways. Similar to what happened with me and my ex-friend, it’s not that she just ghosted me or only wanted to talk and hang out with her boyfriend. Yet, her prioritization of him had an effect, and I think we both lacked the language and/or the sheer tenacity to address it. 4) how sometimes things just don’t work out, and it hurts so freaking much, and you survive it. I appreciated how neither James nor Kat were abusive to one another necessarily, rather, a lot of small things built up over time and their friendship didn’t last. Kat could have been a better listener, James could have been more open with her feelings, both could have communicated in more nuanced and emotionally intelligent ways. One of the conversations they had at the end of the book – their last conversation – broke my heart, because it reminded me so much of heated conversations I got into with my ex-friend, when you’ve both been hurt and both of your hurt just spirals into something unsalvageable. And yet, Spalding shows, through the flashbacks of this story in particular, the genuine, deep love James and Kat shared with one another, that that love was real even if it did not last. All of these dynamics reminded me of my own friendship with this ex-friend. Maybe I could have been more understanding of who she was all along, maybe she could have been less defensive, maybe we both could have done things differently. And yet, at least for me, our friendship felt like, in the words of one of my current best friends Bri, a whole world – a world of connection and meaning and beauty incomparable to romantic love and its state-sanctioned popularity. I feel like we so often do not put enough effort into our friendships and a large part of that stems from the lack of media representations of deep, fulfilling friendships. Is We Used to Be Friends one of the most well-written books I’ve read? Honestly, I’m not sure I’d say so, as the prose is relatively straightforward and the characters’ lives feel a bit contained. In some ways I feel like if not for my own experiences with friendship and friendship breakups, I’d give the novel four stars. And yet, this book does such a tender and thoughtful job of portraying a close friendship and its disintegration that I’m confident it will resonate with others who’ve been through what I and others have been through, the breakup of a close or best friendship. After all, I think the best books are the ones that help us feel less alone and more connected in our suffering and our grief. This book accomplishes that in major ways for me, because even though I write about friendship on my blog all the time, it’s so meaningful to see an experience similar to mine portrayed in fiction. Thanks to Amy Spalding for her words and I’d love more books that center friendship in the future.
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  • Irena BookDustMagic
    January 1, 1970
    I know it's only January, but I'm pretty sure We Used to be Friends will be one of my favourite reads of 2020.This was so good, amazingly written with capability to send me on my own reminiscing journey.Full review to come.
  • Kate Welsh
    January 1, 1970
    SO MANY FEELINGS. This made me cry ON A BUS. Friend breakups are so terrible and we so rarely talk about them!
  • E.
    January 1, 1970
    so 2020 will be a good year when we finally acknowledge the pain of friend break-ups! neat! __________________________ insta | twitter | blog | booksirens | duolingo
  • Lea ♞ That_Bookdragon
    January 1, 1970
    3/5 Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion and happy release day to this book! "It's strange to think you could grow up right alongside someone and be one category of person when it turns out they're another entirely." We Used To Be Friends follows two best friends as they grow up and ultimately... grow apart. Told through different points of view, one moving forward and the other moving backward, the reader gets to 3/5 ⭐️Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion and happy release day to this book! "It's strange to think you could grow up right alongside someone and be one category of person when it turns out they're another entirely." We Used To Be Friends follows two best friends as they grow up and ultimately... grow apart. Told through different points of view, one moving forward and the other moving backward, the reader gets to know how and why Kat and James' friendship evolved through times. Although the format was promising and interesting, I sadly found myself to be quite confused at times with each timeline. However, this dual timeline brought an interesting aspect to the book as it helped understand better both sides of what Kat and James were feeling toward each other. Even though I was not fond of Kat's character for reasons that are still unknown to me, I grew extremely attached to James. I found that there was much more dimension to James than her friend and she was much more complex in her ideas. I really liked James because, not going to lie here, I could really relate to how she felt towards other characters in the story. Kat on the other hand seemed to be a little bit oblivious and I wanted to shake some sense into her. Maybe it's because I loved James and wanted to protect her that I didn't really like Kat. I do have to say however that Kat is bisexual so A+ for diversity. Sliding into this, I liked the way her bisexuality was portrayed because I didn't seem forced and the author made it seem really natural and genuine. Moreover, I liked that Kat was not ashamed at all about her sexuality and she was not scared to make a statement in front of her whole school so, that's maybe the only redeeming quality I found within her. This book centers itself mostly around friendship and family relationships rather than romance, which was truly appreciable in this context. It was pitched as a book about two best friends growing apart and this is exactly what it delivered. Of course there was relationsips involved in the plot but they were minor compared to the central plot of the book itself even though they played a part in making the story move forward. The parents of the protagonists also had their own flaws and qualities, making them seem more genuine and their presence really brought something to the plot as well. The family dynamics is complex, but relatable. Not everything was portreayed as easy or wonderful with the cast of characters and I enjoyed this aspect the most. I think the majority of us has been through one or more friendship breakups and it is always sad to see but in real life and in written form, especially when it involves best friends who used to say everything to each other until they don't even want to see one another anymore. This made for a painful but realistic story. Using both humor and sadness, this book is definitely one to add to your TBRs. It has the best portrayal of complex friendship I have read in a while.My Bookstagram
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    *I received an earc of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*It's been a few hours since I've finished this book and I really can't find strong feelings for it 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. 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 received an earc of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*It's been a few hours since I've finished this book and I really can't find strong feelings for it 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. 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 wanted to love this book but I just don't. I would definitely recommend it for the positives I mentioned above, but I think my high expectations ended up making this book a bit of a letdown for me.Full review: https://picturethisliteraturecom.word...
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  • Marie
    January 1, 1970
    Real rating: 4,5 stars.We Used To Be Friends was such a brilliant read and a necessary one, too. There are too few books about friendships and friendship break-ups and how painful that can be, too, and this book NAILED IT. I loved the dual POV and the originality of going back and forth in James and Kat's relationship. Bittersweet and emotional, this is such a good read I'm definitely going to recommend. Full review coming soon on the blog!Thank you to Amulet Books UK / Abrams & Chronicle Real rating: 4,5 stars.We Used To Be Friends was such a brilliant read and a necessary one, too. There are too few books about friendships and friendship break-ups and how painful that can be, too, and this book NAILED IT. I loved the dual POV and the originality of going back and forth in James and Kat's relationship. Bittersweet and emotional, this is such a good read I'm definitely going to recommend. Full review coming soon on the blog!Thank you to Amulet Books UK / Abrams & Chronicle Books YA UK for the ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, influenced my thoughts and rating. My Blog - Drizzle & Hurricane Books - Twitter - Bloglovin'
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes a friendship ends with something huge. Other times, two people grow apart for a variety of reasons that aren't necessarily big bangs, but a ton of small ones that inevitably break them apart. Spalding digs into this kind of friendship breakup in a story told in a creative -- and effective -- timeline. James's narrative moves backwards from her leaving for college after the summer post-senior year, while Kat's moves forward from the first month of senior year and as readers, we see all Sometimes a friendship ends with something huge. Other times, two people grow apart for a variety of reasons that aren't necessarily big bangs, but a ton of small ones that inevitably break them apart. Spalding digs into this kind of friendship breakup in a story told in a creative -- and effective -- timeline. James's narrative moves backwards from her leaving for college after the summer post-senior year, while Kat's moves forward from the first month of senior year and as readers, we see all of the things that add up as they come, but we're left moving forward in the story because we're looking for that one thing. But there is no single thing. It's a lot of things, on both sides.Kat discovers she's bisexual, while James's parents are breaking up because her mom has found a new partner, and those are two big revelations in the story, connected because of how they define each of the girls to themselves and one another. Kat becomes close with her girlfriend, whiles James finds herself needing to spend more time better understanding herself and what it is she really wants in her life. Both girls are well-rounded, though I found James a bit more compelling. It's interesting to read reviews calling them unlikable, as I don't think it's true in either case. Is unlikable the word people use for complex now? Both of these girls are high school seniors and have a lot going on, and to me, they read like high school seniors who have a lot going on. None of us are particularly amazing humans at that point in our lives because there's so much going on. Both girls are equally deserving of empathy though for this, as well as the slow breakup of their long-time friendship.As always, Spalding develops some great parents in the story, which I always appreciate. This book has humor, heart, and heartbreak, and I think it's one a lot of readers will relate to. I've yet to read it as of this review, but I think it'll be awesome to pair this book with When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk, another friendship breakup story.
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  • michelle (magical reads)
    January 1, 1970
    3.75 starsread on my blog**I received an ARC from Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** Everything felt so easy then: friendships, boyfriends, the future,. But now my feelings are too messy. It’s like something has been rotting from within and now there’s no way to know when it started. I was intrigued by the title; I mean, We Used to Be Friends is very on the nose, but it’s exactly what this book is about, and I loved it for that. I feel 3.75 starsread on my blog**I received an ARC from Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** Everything felt so easy then: friendships, boyfriends, the future,. But now my feelings are too messy. It’s like something has been rotting from within and now there’s no way to know when it started. I was intrigued by the title; I mean, We Used to Be Friends is very on the nose, but it’s exactly what this book is about, and I loved it for that. I feel like people forget that books portray people within a moment, and that sometimes, romances and friendships aren’t forever. We Used to Be Friends depicts the deterioration of a female friendship, not for any bad reasons but just because people grow away from each other sometimes.The dual timelines were really developed. You pretty much know a general outline of what went down, but you only know from one girl, at different times. Kat’s plot line goes forward, as she realizes she’s bisexual (ownvoices!!) and dates a girl. Meanwhile, James’s narrative is told backwards; you know the end result of her pulling away but you only get to see pieces of it in Kat’s chapters. Knowing a new person is a special kind of magic, because they don’t have to see everything. I loved having both perspectives, especially because it emphasizes that the girls don’t “break up” (so to speak) for any one reason. James increasingly grows annoyed with Kat, not because of her sexuality, but because she’s always focused on herself and doesn’t see how her lack of support affects James. Kat is honestly oblivious to all of this; some people are just absorbed with their own lives, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. She’s just broken up with her boyfriend, a high-profile break-up if there ever was one, and she realizes she’s attracted to her new friend.From the other side, James is dealing with her own break-up and her parents’ divorce, both of which Kat didn’t even know about. She doesn’t help with how bad the friendship gets because she internalizes all her feelings and keeps her irritation to herself, which honestly I relate to. This felt so real to me. When you’re close to someone, it’s not like you want to be annoyed with them, and you’re definitely not going to tell them. “Sure. Good luck with this latest incarnation of yourself.” He says it like a biting insult, but shouldn’t we all be trying to be the latest incarnation of ourselves? I’ve never been happier to feel so little like the girl I was last year. This book had one of the best portrayals of outgrowing a friendship. Not for bad reasons, although not for good: it’s just something that happens. Even if you’ve been best friends with someone, in the end, you’re living as separate people, so it’s only natural for you to grow apart. It’s just so interesting and so relatable to me, having been a teenage girl with ex-best friends. There’s this whole person who you know a million little things about but you don’t even talk to anymore; it’s really such a sad occurrence. But again! A natural one! Pick We Used to Be Friends up whether you’ve felt this way or not!read more herefull review to comeoriginal review:such a good depiction of best friends growing apart
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  • Samantha (WLABB)
    January 1, 1970
    Kat and James had been best friends since they were serendipitously paired together in Kindergarten. Both were looking forward to senior year for different reasons. Kat just wanted to get though this last year, and was anticipating all the new experiences waiting for her in college, while James was eager to be a senior and to enjoy her final year of high school with her best friend at her side. However, neither expected it would be the end of a decade long friendship.I am telling you, right now, Kat and James had been best friends since they were serendipitously paired together in Kindergarten. Both were looking forward to senior year for different reasons. Kat just wanted to get though this last year, and was anticipating all the new experiences waiting for her in college, while James was eager to be a senior and to enjoy her final year of high school with her best friend at her side. However, neither expected it would be the end of a decade long friendship.I am telling you, right now, I had a headache, when I finished this book, due to all the crying I did. Romantic breakups are painful, but we rarely acknowledge how traumatic a friend breakup can be. My tears are evidence, that Spalding did a fantastic job depicting the collapse of this storied friendship. So, considered yourself warned.Spalding told this story from both Kat and James' point of view, but she did so, from opposite ends of the timeline. James' story began at the end, with her leaving town for college, and Kat's started from the beginning of the school year. I found the dual timeline to be quite successful and meaningful for me. James' narrative had more insight, since she could reflect on the past, while Kat's had more unknown's. Since there was overlap, I also experienced many things in multiple ways, and we all know, perspective is everything. It was interesting the way their life situations were flipped, too. Kat's year started with heartbreak, and ended with everything coming up roses, while it was the opposite for James.James' point of the view definitely elicited more tears from me. Her life sort of imploded, and everything she believed in seemed like a lie. There were some positive things that came out of what happened, and Spalding left me hopeful for other things, but James lost a lot, and it broke my heart watching her slow retreat from everyone and her self-imposed isolation.Kat's side of the story made me smile a whole lot. Her family was still in the process of healing following her mother's death, and they were slowly regrouping. Not only was Kat's home life improving, but she fell in love and discovered a lot about herself, included that she was bisexual. The friend breakup seemed to leave more of a mark on Kat, as well, and she tried to make some changes in order to be a better person.This was a story that resonated with me, because I have experienced those painful friend breakups, and I believe many others will be able to relate to Kat and James' story as well.Overall: A sensitive and emotional tale of loss, love, healing, and self discovery.*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
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  • Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
    January 1, 1970
    "By the time you realize you're thirsty, it's too late. You're already dehydrated. Therefore, it stands to reasons that if you feel the end coming, you're already there." This was such a bittersweet book - in the best way. I just feel really sad and filled with pain about this friendship that just falls apart over time. It definitely hooks you and pulls you into the story. You're so invested you feel the heartbrea and pain alongside Kat and James. I loved that this story was told in two "By the time you realize you're thirsty, it's too late. You're already dehydrated. Therefore, it stands to reasons that if you feel the end coming, you're already there." This was such a bittersweet book - in the best way. I just feel really sad and filled with pain about this friendship that just falls apart over time. It definitely hooks you and pulls you into the story. You're so invested you feel the heartbrea and pain alongside Kat and James. I loved that this story was told in two timelines. From James, we go backward from graduation to the beginning of senior year. We know all that she's been through (and kept secret) throughout the year and how much it's weighed on her. From Kat, we go forward and we see her grow into herself and a new relationship with Quinn as she discovers that she's bisexual. The story just felt so real and raw. Neither James nor Kat were the perfect friend - James internalized all of her problems, and Kat was kinda self absorbed - but to see them just fall apart hurts in a specific way. It's this settled discomfort and loss that doesn't quite go away and Amy Spalding captured it perfectly.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    * I received an arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*This book definitely did things most books don’t do. It focused on a friend breakup instead of a romantic couple. Anyone that has had a friend breakup knows that sometimes those can be worse than romantic breakups. I thought this book was extremely well written. The queer rep was amazing. The flow of the book was effective in the way that we got both POV of the friendship, and it works from present day to going back in time so * I received an arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*This book definitely did things most books don’t do. It focused on a friend breakup instead of a romantic couple. Anyone that has had a friend breakup knows that sometimes those can be worse than romantic breakups. I thought this book was extremely well written. The queer rep was amazing. The flow of the book was effective in the way that we got both POV of the friendship, and it works from present day to going back in time so we see the friendship in reverse. I think i didn’t connect with this one because I never had a friendship that lasted long and we had a friend breakup. So it was hard to relate to them in that way. I walked away not feeling happy or sad. I understood why they felt the way they did, but it didn’t sway me in either direction. I could see this book being great for other people but it just didn’t hit me the way it has hit other people.Tw for death
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  • Alexis Nalley
    January 1, 1970
    “I had no idea how you could stand right next to someone and yet have no clue how to get back to them. Though I guess that now it’s more that I’m standing behind someone.”This book. This book, you guys. We Used to be Friends follows two girls, James and Kat as their friendship dissolves. It’s no one’s fault and no one person is totally to blame, just something that sometimes happens- you grow up and you grow apart. This book is told in alternating points of view. James’ part of the story is told “I had no idea how you could stand right next to someone and yet have no clue how to get back to them. Though I guess that now it’s more that I’m standing behind someone.”This book. This book, you guys. We Used to be Friends follows two girls, James and Kat as their friendship dissolves. It’s no one’s fault and no one person is totally to blame, just something that sometimes happens- you grow up and you grow apart. This book is told in alternating points of view. James’ part of the story is told backward, reflecting over her senior year of high school while preparing to leave for college and Kat’s is told forward, following her through her exciting senior year.If you’ve gone through a friend breakup I highly recommend reading this book. So many times you read about heartbreak and it’s linked to a romantic relationship and so while you can somewhat relate, you can feel like it doesn’t apply to you. But the first thing James does is state that her biggest heartbreak came from her friendship with Kat falling through. It’s important to note that while you might identify with one character or another, neither is blamed in this book. As you get to know the characters through their POVs you see that neither is a bad person, neither did something unforgivable for their friendship. You can absolutely see where each of them is coming from.This book broke my heart. I think this is a very important book that many, teens and adults alike, will relate to. There is so many books focused on romantic love and heartbreak, but platonic relationships are just as important. And as Amy Spalding shows here, they are just as heart breaking.Now, I'm going to get a bit emotional. I spent this entire book kind of choked up. I related SO hard with James in this book- feeling like your best friend is moving on to bigger and better things and leaving you behind is an extremely terrible feeling. Knowing that you aren't really their best friend anymore and wanting so badly to hang on to something you know is already gone is even worse. This book made me so sad, you guys. But it also made me feel seen in a real emotional way that honestly, I wasn't prepared to deal with. I gave this book five stars for emotional impact alone. So if you ever feel like you need some catharsis about a friendship being over, definitely pick this up.
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  • Lacey
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Amy Spalding, Amulet Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.I'll be completely honest and say that the cover was the exact reason I picked this book. I like LGBT and best friend battles in young adult novels, but the cover is what really got me. The curiosity of what makes these two best friends separate is what pulled me in through the beauty of the front of the book.I thoughtWe Used to Be Friends was very realistic. I think that Amy Thank you to Amy Spalding, Amulet Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.I'll be completely honest and say that the cover was the exact reason I picked this book. I like LGBT and best friend battles in young adult novels, but the cover is what really got me. The curiosity of what makes these two best friends separate is what pulled me in through the beauty of the front of the book. I thought We Used to Be Friends was very realistic. I think that Amy Spalding did a great job taking the reader into the background to watch everything unfold right along the characters. The plot was very refreshing as it was something I haven't really read before. I really do believe that this was an honest story and you really got to see the truth behind friends growing apart, no matter how long they've been friends for. It's a very real thing.The only reason why I had a little trouble with this book was the timeline and the characters. The timeline is shown at the beginning of each chapter. Make sure to pay attention to this, very closely, or you will be confused. I had to go back a few times to remind myself if I was before or after "senior year" and how long it had been month-wise. James' story is told from the end and Kat's is told from the beginning. It was kind of hard to follow along.With the characters, I feel like it was a little complicated because I became frustrated with some of them. I really enjoyed the dads in this book, but the main characters were tough on me. I had a really hard time with Kat and James. They were pretty interested in making sure each other knew that they had issues with the friendships but never really took the blame on themselves. I understand that they're young and that's how life works when you're young, but I feel as though I couldn't see the growth behind them because of that.Lastly, I think that the ending was a little too much... left for interpretation? The ending definitely is up to the reader. When reading, I wish it had more of a direct ending instead of an ambiguous one where we have to think and decide what it is. Overall, I think that if I were a couple years younger, I would've liked this book more. It's definitely a high school (or fresh-out of) story. It's definitely a book that I would read again and recommend to those with children in high school or high school students.  
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  • Karen Barber
    January 1, 1970
    The title pulls no punches. This is all about the break-up of all break-ups, and though it’s upsetting on occasion I couldn’t help but warm to both James and Kat.James and Kat were paired together in kindergarten and have been best friends since. Our story opens with them about to go to college, and things are no longer looking as rosy as they were.The premise itself is quite straightforward. Two friends are developing and their relationship is shifting. They’re dealing with family issues, The title pulls no punches. This is all about the break-up of all break-ups, and though it’s upsetting on occasion I couldn’t help but warm to both James and Kat.James and Kat were paired together in kindergarten and have been best friends since. Our story opens with them about to go to college, and things are no longer looking as rosy as they were.The premise itself is quite straightforward. Two friends are developing and their relationship is shifting. They’re dealing with family issues, evolving relationships and the movement into adulthood. So, what’s special about this?For me, it comes down to the innovative structure of the novel. We get alternating viewpoints, which allow us to see both perspectives, and then there’s the construction of those views. James’s story begins with her about to start college, reflecting on the last year and examining just how her relationship with her best friend came to such a place. Kate’s story opens at the beginning of senior year, full of promise and excitement as she begins a new relationship and slowly comes to learn some of her flaws.Both characters were flawed. Kat was highly dramatic and self-obsessed, while James was reticent to discuss emotions never mind deal with them. Cutting between time/situation lent a fascinating air to this. We could see how it would end up, and the signs were obvious but both seemed unable to do anything to salvage it.Though I enjoyed the style of telling, and grew to feel some compassion for both characters, I’m not entirely sure what the message of this book is. Relationships change. Sometimes people aren’t what you thought. Too much introspection is a bad thing. Too much self-obsession is a bad thing. I’m grateful to NetGalley for granting me access to this in exchange for my thoughts. This might be one to return to.
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  • Maria
    January 1, 1970
    2/5 stars:I think 2020 should be the year I realize YA contemporary is just not for me. There are VERY few contemporaries I end up loving and this definitely wasn't one of them. In fact, it is one of contemporaries I've enjoyed the least in recent times.Both in writing and plot I don't think this book does anything special or remarkable. The story moves between the two main characters' POVs -Kat and James- and although their personalities and likes/dislikes are pretty different their tones and 2/5 stars:I think 2020 should be the year I realize YA contemporary is just not for me. There are VERY few contemporaries I end up loving and this definitely wasn't one of them. In fact, it is one of contemporaries I've enjoyed the least in recent times.Both in writing and plot I don't think this book does anything special or remarkable. The story moves between the two main characters' POVs -Kat and James- and although their personalities and likes/dislikes are pretty different their tones and perspectives weren't that different. I do commend the fact that the characters were at least distinguishable in their aspirations and personalities. However, throughout the book both characters feel very inconsistent and their actions sometimes don't make a lot of sense and they just come out of nowhere. I understand that they're teenagers but it didn't feel like that was what the author had been trying to do. It was more like the characters weren't explored properly and we didn't really get to see a lot of inner exploration from them.I think the book doesn't benefit from the back and forth of the timeline. We move inconsistently between the beginning of the girls' senior year, the middle part of it and also the summer after. It makes the pace feel weird and I felt like it was more difficult to connect with the events this way.The ending of this book was... really not good, y'all. I am never opposed to incomplete endings but this was so abrupt and unsatisfying. It wasn't even emotional or poignant in any way. I felt by the end of this book like reading it had been for absolutely nothing *shrug*I guess the reason I'm giving this book a 2-star rating and not a 1 -star comes down to the fact that we have some decent bisexual representation (with an main f/f couple) and also the fact that this book focuses on the friendship between two girls (even if it's more about its fallout) and I love me some female/female friendships always.
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  • Catalina
    January 1, 1970
    I would have liked it a lot more if not for the fact that it jumps around the entire year a lot. I got confused a few times about what was going on with the characters when it skipped so far in the past and then back to the present and such. But, it was a very relatable story. Friendship breakups are the worst.
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  • Cait
    January 1, 1970
    This was brutal, in a very real way. The dual POV's telling the story in two different orders really made the book for me. I think people's reactions to this book will vastly depend on who you see more of yourself in.
  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    Reading a lot of romances, one thing I’ve noticed is how often the romantic relationship is seen as it. I mean, obviously it being centred in a romance makes sense! I’m very happy that’s the case! But frequently it feels like that relationship is all the MCs are allowed to have in their lives. When I think there’s room enough for that not to be the case.We Used To Be Friends isn’t a romance, but that doesn't matter because it’s an unapologetic love letter to friendships instead.The plot is Reading a lot of romances, one thing I’ve noticed is how often the romantic relationship is seen as it. I mean, obviously it being centred in a romance makes sense! I’m very happy that’s the case! But frequently it feels like that relationship is all the MCs are allowed to have in their lives. When I think there’s room enough for that not to be the case.We Used To Be Friends isn’t a romance, but that doesn't matter because it’s an unapologetic love letter to friendships instead.The plot is actually pretty basic - which maybe sounds like a criticism but it’s actually not here. Through different timelines and alternating POVs, we see how Kat & James (BEST NAMES) go from being BFFs to… not.This book squeezed my heart because it just got it. It understands the importance of friendships, how the great ones impact and influence our lives even if those friendships aren’t lifelong. It recognises how emotionally devastating it can be when you realise there’s nothing you can really do about a friendship ending because life is a thing and we as people don’t stay the same way forever. It especially captured the way it's so easy to be petty and selfish (particularly when you're 17/18).I thought the writing was lovely. Amy Spalding did a really fantastic job in writing two very distinct voices in Kat & James. Not once was I confused about whose chapter I was reading because their characters were so well defined.We Used To Be Friends made me laugh, made me cry, made me nostalgic for a time I will never get back, and made me so very glad a book about the importance of friendships exists. Loved.ARC kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley
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  • Traci Wilmoth
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. There are a million books written about a broken heart about a break up, but it is true that our friends can break our hearts as well. Those long-lasting friendships or just as and often more significant to our lives than romantic ones. High school and college are about making big decisions and changing and growing, and sometimes people we love grow apart from us. We Used to Be Friends is a delightful and poignant book about the changes that happen to our relationships over I loved this book. There are a million books written about a broken heart about a break up, but it is true that our friends can break our hearts as well. Those long-lasting friendships or just as and often more significant to our lives than romantic ones. High school and college are about making big decisions and changing and growing, and sometimes people we love grow apart from us. We Used to Be Friends is a delightful and poignant book about the changes that happen to our relationships over time. It focuses on a friendship, but also includes the changes between parents and children and romantic relationships as well.The book changes point of view between two friends, James and Kat, during their senior year. Though the two girls are vastly different, I find myself liking them both and being sympathetic to them both. As their friendship unravels, I do not think it is solely one person's fault over the other, and they both make mistakes and have good intentions. This is another book that will go in my classroom library!
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  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review – thanks so much to Netgalley for sending this to me!I have been excited for this book ever since the announcement, because the main comp title was my favourite musical of all time, The Last Five Years. The musical follows Cathy and Jamie, a young couple who meet, fall in love, get married… and then get a divorce. What really makes the musical interesting, though, is its non-linear narrative: while Jamie tells his I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review – thanks so much to Netgalley for sending this to me!I have been excited for this book ever since the announcement, because the main comp title was my favourite musical of all time, The Last Five Years. The musical follows Cathy and Jamie, a young couple who meet, fall in love, get married… and then get a divorce. What really makes the musical interesting, though, is its non-linear narrative: while Jamie tells his side of the story from beginning to end, Cathy tells it from end to beginning. We alternate between the two perspectives, watching them fall in and out of love at the same time, and it’s heartbreaking. When I heard that someone was writing that, but with best friends, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Best friend break-ups are equally as sad and painful as romantic ones, and yet they aren’t viewed in the same way. People don’t write songs about losing touch with a friend, or realising you don’t click with someone any more – but they should. This book is evidence of why.We Used To Be Friends follows Kat and James (cute) who have been BFFs since childhood. It takes place during their senior year when everything is changing – James’ family is falling apart, she’s broken up with her boyfriend and is frustrated that her whole life is expected to revolve around college admissions, whereas Kat is fighting this constant desire for perfection alongside an all-consuming new relationship, realisations about her sexuality and the fact that her father, a widower, has started finally looking for love.I loved this story for the same reason I love the musical: both of the characters are culpable, and they both have aspects of themselves that were dislikeable. James is closed-off, judgemental and kind of self-righteous, and she has a jealous streak; Kat is ditzy, self-absorbed and a godawful listener, as well as being super changeable, finding new hobbies and causes to care about at the drop of a hat. At the same time, I cared for them both very deeply by the end – although I had more of a soft spot for Kat. She could be irritating and melodramatic, but I thought James was pretty cruel to her, gossiping behind her back and griping about all of her little mannerisms in a way that made it harder to sympathise with James’ point of view. I wonder if this was an intentional choice, since in the original musical Jamie is arguably a less sympathetic character than Cathy (I love him, but dude makes some awful decisions). Ultimately I think the reason this story hit me is that it was so real. It really hit the nail on the head with the way it showed that best friends can know each other so well that the knowing becomes a negative thing, causing you to see one another in the worst light. James in particular becomes so focused on Kat’s shortcomings that it’s all she can see, whereas Kat is so wrapped up in her own drama that she struggles to recognise her own role in neglecting their friendship. The whole thing is so honest and poignant that when I finished the book I kind of had to sit there and just marinate in my own sadness for a while, which was weirdly cathartic. I think this is a book I’m going to have to reread at some point, because while I picked it up specifically for the non-linear narrative it was pretty hard to get my head around what was going on a lot of the time, which I think was the case with the musical too – I had to watch and listen several times before I fully understood everything that happened. However, I do have to mention that the formatting of the ARC really didn’t help matters – I won’t hold this against the book itself because obviously that’ll be fixed before the release, but honestly it was so bad that it made this potentially confusing book an absolute nightmare to read. It was laid outlike this, so that some sentences had random line-breaks, and sometimes the dialogue of two characters would be on the same line, so that it took several attempts to figure out who was actually speaking. Oh yeah, and the header of the title randomly appeared in the middle of several pages so you’d be reading and it would randomly say WE USED TO BE FRIENDS in the middle of a paragraph, which at first I thought was some weird subliminal message thing but I later figured out was just a formatting issue. Obviously ARCs are not final, but I feel like there should be some attempts made to at least make them readable, because I did struggle at times. I’m excited to pick up a finished copy and see whether I can keep everything straight in my head the second time around.My ultimate takeaway from this book is that it was the sad, validating, often-times frustrating read I needed in my life, and I really appreciated it. Some people may not be a fan of this, because it’s super bittersweet, the characters are both pretty dislikeable in their own ways and it doesn’t have a happy ending – but that’s kind of the point. If James and Kat were perfect characters, they would have stayed friends. If it had a happy ending, that would have been a disservice to the source material (though I would have forgiven it, because I wanted SO BADLY for them to make friends again). At the end of the day, We Used To Be Friends was a really awesome book and I’m so happy I had the chance to read it.
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  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 STARSFormer best friends Kat and James (a girl) tell the story of how their friendship fell apart. Kat’s narration is from past to present, James’s from present to past. The girls handle hardship differently. Introverted James retreats, extroverted Kat shares. Kat sees James as secretive, James sees Kat as attention seeking.Although I’m more like James than Kat, I found James the less sympathetic friend. She blames Kat for not asking about Big Things like her parents’ divorce and college 3.5 STARSFormer best friends Kat and James (a girl) tell the story of how their friendship fell apart. Kat’s narration is from past to present, James’s from present to past. The girls handle hardship differently. Introverted James retreats, extroverted Kat shares. Kat sees James as secretive, James sees Kat as attention seeking.Although I’m more like James than Kat, I found James the less sympathetic friend. She blames Kat for not asking about Big Things like her parents’ divorce and college choice change, yet they are topics that wouldn’t be on the radar unless disclosed. I can see why Kat wouldn’t think to ask, yet I can also see how James would want things to be about her. I didn’t see Kat as attention seeking as much as seeking the external validation she missed since her mother’s death.WE USED TO BE FRIENDS is a fairly realistic look at how a friendship that was supposed to last forever didn’t. The ending was fairly open ended with a past chapter, the first in the story of the friendship deconstruction. Amy Spaulding choosing two different timelines felt gimmicky rather than the best way to tell the story. When writers first began telling stories with alternating timelines, even backwards it felt fresh and exciting. Now I’d just assume a linear start to finish.I loved the dads in the story and that Kat, though initially reluctant and fearful about her mom being replaced, embraced her father’s girlfriend. Attentive, decent yet imperfect parents are sometimes difficult to find in YA literature.WE USED TO BE FRIENDS likely appeals more to girls than boys middle school through high school age.
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    When the emphasis on heartbreak is the romantic kind, the ones that give us butterflies, and inspires songs, the importance of friendship can get left behind. We Used to Be Friends tells the story of James and Kat. Told through dual POVs and timelines, we are able to witness the ways we drift apart from each other. Stop speaking that same silent language of unspoken gestures. The ways our plans go awry so fast that it seems like an accident of a moment, when in fact it had been breaking down for When the emphasis on heartbreak is the romantic kind, the ones that give us butterflies, and inspires songs, the importance of friendship can get left behind. We Used to Be Friends tells the story of James and Kat. Told through dual POVs and timelines, we are able to witness the ways we drift apart from each other. Stop speaking that same silent language of unspoken gestures. The ways our plans go awry so fast that it seems like an accident of a moment, when in fact it had been breaking down for so long.I am so impressed with Spalding's ability to choose just which moments to jump back and forth in time. Feeling that rush of love in our blood can overwhelm us. Kat's first girlfriend (questioning and bisexual representation) seems to be the beginning of a schism, but what Spalding demonstrates is that that's just the tip of the iceberg. In a story full of mistakes, moments of selfishness, times when we should have asked more, We Used to Be Friends is all about the events underneath the surface. The ways they dance our their feelings. Saying without saying. And the moments we miss when we are turning back around. (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
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  • Chantal Aurora
    January 1, 1970
    Wow this book was incredible. Finally a book that deals with friendships and friendship break ups which are never talked about. This book was so well written. I felt so much for both characters they both made me angry in how they treated the other but I could also understand their point of view. The nuance in their relationship was done so well. Both of them were at fault for their break up and it was so heartbreaking to read. I love that Kat comes out as bisexual and starts dating a girl. Their Wow this book was incredible. Finally a book that deals with friendships and friendship break ups which are never talked about. This book was so well written. I felt so much for both characters they both made me angry in how they treated the other but I could also understand their point of view. The nuance in their relationship was done so well. Both of them were at fault for their break up and it was so heartbreaking to read. I love that Kat comes out as bisexual and starts dating a girl. Their shift from friendship to dating wasn’t developed enough and felt rushed but it was a really cute relationship. There were times the dialogue wasn’t as strong or certain characters and subplots weren’t throughly developed. Despite some tiny flaws this book was an amazing intimate look at friendships and even though it broke my heart I loved every second of it.
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  • Trisha
    January 1, 1970
    Update: Long review now up at my blog Trish Talks Texts.Interesting, different but same.Review to come at my blog
  • Elle Gutierrez
    January 1, 1970
    3.75Thank you to NetGalley and Amulet Books (an imprint of ABRAMS) for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are exclusively my own. Romantic heartbreaks hurt… a lot. Friendship heartbreaks? Now that’s true pain. I really feel like we need more books about friendship heartbreak. About friendship in general. Yes, this had some romance in it, but it was not the driving force of the story and I really really liked that. The story is about two 3.75Thank you to NetGalley and Amulet Books (an imprint of ABRAMS) for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are exclusively my own. Romantic heartbreaks hurt… a lot. Friendship heartbreaks? Now that’s true pain. I really feel like we need more books about friendship heartbreak. About friendship in general. Yes, this had some romance in it, but it was not the driving force of the story and I really really liked that. The story is about two former best friends, Kat and James. We follow their respective sides during their senior year to try and discover what exactly went wrong in this friendship. The story is told through alternating points of view. Kat starts at the beginning of senior year, and moves forward, while James starts at the end of senior year and moves backward. I will admit it was hard at times to keep track of where we were in relation to the other person, but that was mostly my fault. My brain struggles a lot lol. I so desperately wanted to find the *one* thing that broke this friendship, but it wasn’t like that. Rather, it was a series of events that ultimately broke the camel's back. Although the ending was left kind of vague, it still left a lasting hurt in my chest. In my opinion, it was a great move to have James’ POV moving backward because I think it made a much stronger impression at the end than if we had ended with Kat’s POV of the beginning of senior year. Sure Kat’s friendship was falling apart, but she still got to have some joy during her senior year. She found a person who she really clicks with and loves, got to go to parties and be popular, and be prom royalty! While James was excited about senior year at the beginning. She was so hopeful, and very much looking forward to the last year of highschool with her best friend. It touched me more because I know how everything falls apart for her. If you are looking for fast paced adventure, this is not the book for you. This is a book about a friendship that was supposed to last a lifetime. This is a book that tries to tell you that as much as we want life to stay just the way it is in this exact moment, it’s just not possible. Change is inevitable, and it sucks, it hurts, it hurts a lot… and that’s okay.You can find this book on shelves January 7, 2020.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Update! I decided to go with 4 stars.----So many feelings and thoughts on this one. I really don't know what to rate it! I think I want to say 3.5 stars but I definitely stayed up until past midnight to finish because I couldn't put it down so maybe it's really a 4? It really did hit close to home in a lot of ways. Kat reminded me so much someone I USED to be BFFs with and I related to James' feelings on the matter a lot. I think that's why I'm conflicted on the rating. Because I just didn't Update! I decided to go with 4 stars.----So many feelings and thoughts on this one. I really don't know what to rate it! I think I want to say 3.5 stars but I definitely stayed up until past midnight to finish because I couldn't put it down so maybe it's really a 4? It really did hit close to home in a lot of ways. Kat reminded me so much someone I USED to be BFFs with and I related to James' feelings on the matter a lot. I think that's why I'm conflicted on the rating. Because I just didn't like Kat since she reminded me of someone I had a bad falling out with (plus I truly found her super irritating) and of course, half the book is told from her perspective. But it was a good and necessary POV to have! This absolutely couldn't have been a single POV; we needed both sides. I need to think on this more before I officially rate. But overall, what a great book on depicting messy friendship breakups and how complicated and heartbreaking they can be.
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  • Elle Gutierrez
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and Amulet Books (an imprint of ABRAMS) for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are exclusively my own. Romantic heartbreaks hurt… a lot. Friendship heartbreaks? Now that’s true pain. I really feel like we need more books about friendship heartbreak. About friendship in general. Yes, this had some romance in it, but it was not the driving force of the story and I really really liked that. The story is about two former Thank you to NetGalley and Amulet Books (an imprint of ABRAMS) for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are exclusively my own. Romantic heartbreaks hurt… a lot. Friendship heartbreaks? Now that’s true pain. I really feel like we need more books about friendship heartbreak. About friendship in general. Yes, this had some romance in it, but it was not the driving force of the story and I really really liked that. The story is about two former best friends, Kat and James. We follow their respective sides during their senior year to try and discover what exactly went wrong in this friendship. The story is told through alternating points of view. Kat starts at the beginning of senior year, and moves forward, while James starts at the end of senior year and moves backward. I will admit it was hard at times to keep track of where we were in relation to the other person, but that was mostly my fault. My brain struggles a lot lol. I so desperately wanted to find the *one* thing that broke this friendship, but it wasn’t like that. Rather, it was a series of events that ultimately broke the camel's back. Although the ending was left kind of vague, it still left a lasting hurt in my chest. In my opinion, it was a great move to have James’ POV moving backward because I think it made a much stronger impression at the end than if we had ended with Kat’s POV of the beginning of senior year. Sure Kat’s friendship was falling apart, but she still got to have some joy during her senior year. She found a person who she really clicks with and loves, got to go to parties and be popular, and be prom royalty! While James was excited about senior year at the beginning. She was so hopeful, and very much looking forward to the last year of highschool with her best friend. It touched me more because I know how everything falls apart for her. If you are looking for fast paced adventure, this is not the book for you. This is a book about a friendship that was supposed to last a lifetime. This is a book that tries to tell you that as much as we want life to stay just the way it is in this exact moment, it’s just not possible. Change is inevitable, and it sucks, it hurts, it hurts a lot… and that’s okay.You can find this book on shelves January 7, 2020.
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  • Margaret
    January 1, 1970
    Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch“It’s strange to think you can grow up right alongside someone and be one category of person when it turns out they’re another entirely.”I’ve read more books than I can count about romantic relationships of all kinds, from new relationships to relationships that are falling apart, but before now, I’ve never read a book that’s all about the end of a friendship.We Used To Be Friends is the story of two childhood best friends, Kat and James (a girl with a boy’s name), during Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch“It’s strange to think you can grow up right alongside someone and be one category of person when it turns out they’re another entirely.”I’ve read more books than I can count about romantic relationships of all kinds, from new relationships to relationships that are falling apart, but before now, I’ve never read a book that’s all about the end of a friendship.We Used To Be Friends is the story of two childhood best friends, Kat and James (a girl with a boy’s name), during their senior year of high school. At the beginning, they are as close as two people can be, certain that they’re going to be friends for the rest of their lives. By the end, they’re not even speaking.The fact that I’ve gone this long without encountering a book with such an emphasis on a platonic breakup is astounding, because who hasn’t experienced something like this? When you’re young, you think you’re going to stay friends with the same people for the rest of your life, but that usually doesn’t happen. This book captures the end of a friendship perfectly: it’s not always one big, dramatic moment that marks a breakup like in a romantic relationship, but a slow decline as you drift apart. And that can be even more painful.The story is told in two timelines, one moving forward and one moving backward, like in the musical The Last Five Years. James’ POV begins after the end of their senior year when she’s leaving for college, then moves backward to the beginning of senior year, while Kat’s begins then and moves in the opposite direction.Even though this method of storytelling was confusing for a bit, I can’t imagine this book being nearly as effective without it. We truly don’t get to see the full picture until we see the whole story through both of their points of view. And the amount of dramatic irony is unreal; there were so many moments that I knew something was going on with one character, but the other character didn’t know, and I just wanted to scream at both of them. Plus, it made the ending even more painful.Kat and James were both wonderfully complex and flawed characters. Kat, falling in love and starting to believe in a future she could be happy about, while James, in the wake of her parents’ divorce, shutting herself off from people and tearing down everything good in her life. From each of their own POVs, they were sympathetic and understandable, but from the other’s, they were frustrating and selfish. It was so clear how each of them felt justified in their own actions and their annoyance with the other.Everything about this book felt so real, from the teenage interactions to the gradual decline of the friendship. It captured the sense of uncertainty at the end of high school, right when everything is about to change and you don’t know what’s going to last and what’s not. This book was melancholy, thought-provoking, frustrating, and hopeful all at once, and I definitely recommend it.“Friendship can look so different from the inside than out.”Content warnings: loss of parent, cheating*ARC PROVIDED BY NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. QUOTES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.*Originally posted on blog
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    This one is a 3.5 for me, and I loved the cover and pitch-perfect title. While the unusual approach of having one character (Kat) tell her story from the start of senior year while the other character (James) tells her story from the summer after the end of senior year, moving backward in time, has its charms and lends a freshness to the plot, the writing is honest and the situations realistic, all designed to keep readers hooked and turning those pages eagerly as I did. After all, as much as This one is a 3.5 for me, and I loved the cover and pitch-perfect title. While the unusual approach of having one character (Kat) tell her story from the start of senior year while the other character (James) tells her story from the summer after the end of senior year, moving backward in time, has its charms and lends a freshness to the plot, the writing is honest and the situations realistic, all designed to keep readers hooked and turning those pages eagerly as I did. After all, as much as romantic breakups hurt, leaving us to ponder what went wrong and how two individuals so in love could grow apart, so do friend break-ups. Arguably, when two teen girls who used to be friends are no longer friends, it's even more painful than the romantic breakups. As I read this story, I felt sad that James simply couldn't tell Kat what had happened to her parents' marriage and how that affected her future plans and certainly about her boyfriend, Logan. The more she tried to hide her feelings and this secret, the more the distance between James and Kat grew and the more James began to resent her friend. Meanwhile, after a very public breakup with her own boyfriend, Matty, falls for Quinn and begins spending time with her. Although she tries to include James, James isn't fond of Quinn and resists Kat's attempts. This is all described in detail and as though the author herself must have gone through similar experiences. There are so many moments when a simple conversation might have cleared the air, but readers will also realize that some things can't be fixed and that yes, even the closest of friends can end up growing in very different directions. The scene in which Kat and James finally confront one another about their feelings was particularly tense and honest. While some might argue that both girls are a bit hard to take, I could feel Kat's confusion when she realizes that they really aren't friends anymore. This book might help other teens accept that some friendships aren't forever. One of its strengths is how Kat and James have healthy sex lives with their partners, not described in detail, but matter of factly, as though this is just a part of growing up.
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