My Best Friend is a Goddess by Tara Eglington
Published Ocotber 24, 2016 by Harper Collins
Source: the author
Rating: 4 stars
From the blurb: Sixteen-year-olds Emmily and Adriana have been besties sinse Year One. Way back when Adriana had a gap between her teeth and was super-skinny. Emily wasn't any less awkward-looking, and ever since they've stuck together on the social sidelines.But when Adriana returns during Year Ten, after having spent eighteen months overseas, she has gone from awkward to AMAZING. As in utter goddess.Thankfully, Adriana is no different on the inside. She's still the same best friend Emily knows and loves. But Emily just wishes that one guy, any guy, would want to get to know her for a reason other than being Adriana's best friend.Cue Theo...
I adore Tara Eglington's first two books, the Aurora Skye duology, so I was thrilled when she sent me a copy of her latest novel, My Best Friend is a Goddess. Like the Aurora books, it too is set in the fictional Australian suburb of Jefferson, and the two main characters, Emily Wood and Adriana Andersson, attend Jefferson High.
The story is told via alternating chapters from each girl's perspective, as well as excerpts from their diaries or inner thoughts. It was easy to distinguish between the characters, both of them being individuals. Em is an extroverted artist, living with her artist mother. Her father left before she was born and she doesn't know much about him. Adriana and her father have spent the past eighteen months in Borneo, it was a chance for them to escape their grief at losing Adriana's mother, and for Adriana to escape the relentless bullying at school. The girls are reunited and Em expects everything to go back to normal.
The friendship in this story felt so, so real. I am sure teens and adults will be able to relate to the ups and downs of long term relationships. The story also explores insecurity and grief. Em, while typically the tougher of the pair, is constantly ridiculed at school for the shape of her nose, and internally she berates herself for her small breasts. This teasing increases over the course of the school year and her confidence decreased each day. Adriana, is more of an introvert and has always reacted sensitively to criticism and bullying. Being home brings her grief to the surface and she finds herself increasing angry with her past behaviour and the people around her. She can't stop replaying all the taunts she used to hear and still thinks of herself as the same girl.
In TV shows, one of my least favourite tropes is miscommunication. I always find it a unbelievable when two characters can't have a conversation and reveal the true issue and sort out their problems. Em and Adriana's story revolves around this trope and while it grated on me a little, especially towards the end, in this case it made sense. In a friendship like theirs, where they have always been able to talk freely, a problem like crushing on the same boy would seem daunting. And when one friend is already overwhelmed, it was realistic to see the other choose to put her friend's happiness first. On top of that, even a strong friendship will suffer from a long absence and the girls needed more to time to get reacquainted because Adriana had changed more than either of them realised.
I thought I could predict the ending but instead I found myself surprised and quite sad. Ending the narrative and finishing the story only via diary entries and inner thoughts was an interesting choice, and allowed the passing of time to be hastened.
Ableist language: crazy, lame, dumb, mental, psycho, insane, maniac.
My Best Friend is a Goddess is a wonderful exploration of friendship, grief, and anxiety. It's full of depth, sweetness, and heartache.
Thank you to Tara Eglington for a signed copy.