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.
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.