Female Friendships: The Girls From Corona del Mar

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review. 

I’m at the point in my life where relationships with the girls I’ve known since I was in highschool start to become a little more complicated than they ever were before. You start to get wrapped up in your own life and everything that that entails and you stop actively searching out friendships. You never had to work at it before; this phase is an adjustment.

Rufi Thorpe’s The Girls From Corona del Mar addresses this dilemma times 100.

corona del mar

Lorri-Ann and Mia have been best friends since forever. Lorri-Ann was the one that went with Mia when Mia had an abortion at the age of 15 following the decision to lose her virginity to a boy that she didn’t particularly like. Lorri-Ann is the kind of girl that everyone wants to be around: she’s beautiful, smart and just the nicest person ever. Mia is constantly astounded at how good Lorri-Ann is.

But then her dad dies and it seems like Lorri-Ann’s life is one terrible thing after another, like the ‘bad-luck vultures’ are constantly circling and picking apart her life. She gets pregnant at 20 and decides to marry the father of her baby instead of taking her place at university, where she’s earned a scholarship.

This is the point where Mia and Lorri-Ann’s lives split: Mia goes off to Yale, to follow the academic dreams she’s nurtured that get her away from her own imperfect home life and Lorri-Ann marries Jim and has her baby, who is born blue, which then presents a whole other set of problems in Lorri-Ann’s life.

I obsessively read this book in about 4 hours. Sadly, not all in one sitting. But that meant that when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about Mia and Lorri-Ann, about what it’s like to watch your best friend’s life implode, even when you’re no longer that close.

Thorpe explores the complexity of female relationships so well. The thing about those friendships you make when you’re a kid is that they are all consuming and far reaching. For the whole rest of your life, no matter how many new friends you make, no one will ever know you the way your childhood friends know you. I think because of where I am in my own life, I related to this book on a visceral level.

I found that the perspective of this novel was an interesting one. The story is told by Mia but it’s mostly the story of Lorri-Ann. It’s like Mia is relating the story to you the way that Lorri-Ann told it to her, complete with all the things that Lorri-Ann was thinking and feeling in those moments but also coloured by how Mia felt about everything during, and then later. I think it made for a more intimate reading experience; it almost felt like sitting down with a friend who’s relating this whole thing to you.

I was totally caught off guard by how much I loved this book.

13 thoughts on “Female Friendships: The Girls From Corona del Mar

  1. I’m so glad to see that you reviewed this because I just saw a quick blurb about it the other day, but did really know much about it. It sounds fantastic! I just added it to the possibilities list for my book club – it sounds like something we’d all like.

  2. This sounds like a great book. I agree that no one can ever know you quite as well as the friends you grew up with, and that makes it all the more heartbreaking when those friendships dissolve. You’ve definitely put this book on my radar with your review – thank you!

    • I’m glad to hear it! It’s so hard when those early friendships are tested and may not work out the way you hope. If nothing else an excellent reminder that you do actually have to put the work in. I think we realize that with the friendships we form as adults but the ones that existed before real life, when you saw each other at school every day and it was just easy, it’s tricky to find the new balance.

  3. It’s like that with the girls round here. My daughter and her best friend from primary school – when they went to secondary they felt that they had to cool it a bit and that they needed to give each other space to make their own friendship groups, and develop separately. But when they get together it’s still special.

    Similarly the toxic friendships carry on. Two other girls in the class, locked in a fighting-crying love-hate relationship throughout primary. Now endlessly posting selfies to Facebook and commenting “You’re beautiful! I’m so jealous!” while trying to outdo each other in the glamour stakes.

    Sadly I don’t have those friendships to refer to because we moved when I was nine. I was unable ever to fit in at my new school – I’d never had to *try* before, we all just accepted each other because we’d known each other since we were 5.

    • Female friendships are SO complicated. You’re right – they can be so toxic, destructive even. It can be really difficult to be the new kid in an environment where no one has had to make that effort before.

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