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We Used to Be Friends
Cover of We Used to Be Friends
We Used to Be Friends
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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...
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...
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  • 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.

About the Author-

  • Amy Spalding is the author of several novels for teens, including Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) and The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles), which earned a starred review from Kirkus. She lives in Los Angeles.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 4, 2019
    What’s worse than a romantic breakup? A best-friend breakup, at least according to James, a girl with a boy’s name, whose friendship with Kat seems to erode over their senior year of high school. Kat is dating someone new, and James, increasingly irritated at what she sees as Kat’s constant need for attention, has stopped telling Kat about what’s happening in her life, even major events like her parents’ split. The two girls narrate their stories in alternating chapters, and Spalding (The Summer of Jordi Perez) has James’s version move backward in time while Kat’s goes forward. The author effectively conveys the ways that a desire for perfection can keep people at arm’s length, how not telling people things makes it harder to tell them later, and how silence can come to feel like a lie. The novel is about more than just the friendship: Kat’s seeing a girl for the first time; James is volunteering, making new friends, and debating whether to get back together with her boyfriend. But Spalding shows with sensitivity how the pain of losing a close friend can seep into everything. Ages 14–up.

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2019

    Gr 9 Up-Kat and James have been inseparable best friends since the two girls met in kindergarten, but by senior year everything has changed. Kat, reeling from a breakup with Matty, meets Quinn and begins to question her sexuality and who she wants to be. Meanwhile, James has her world turned upside down when her mother announces that she and her father are separating. Kat and James find themselves facing big life changes...alone. By the end of the year there's no avoiding the question of whether they somehow missed the biggest change of all-the end of their friendship. James shares her story starting at the end and going backwards, while Kat starts at the beginning and moves forward. The result is a captivating snapshot of a friendship that many teens will relate to. Spalding explores important questions while lyrically weaving the two stories together. When did it happen? How did happen? Why did it happen? Or perhaps the scariest question of all-did it just happen? VERDICT Teens will find comfort in this title that is hard to put down. A recommended purchase for all libraries serving teens.-Elizabeth Portillo, Easton Public Library, CT

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    October 15, 2019
    The friendship of two girls, best friends since kindergarten, unravels during their senior year of high school. Kat, whose mother died two years ago, lives with her father. James (named after her father) lives with her mother and father--but her parents are heading toward a divorce. Both girls are also experiencing the ending of relationships with their boyfriends. Despite both dealing with absent mothers and broken hearts, the girls' paths forward are quite different and lead to the end of their friendship. At the root of their breakup is how honest the girls are with themselves and with each other: useful topics for any teen to consider. Over the course of the year, Kat discovers she is bisexual. The subplot of her relationship with her girlfriend, Quinn, is handled smoothly, without hand-wringing on anyone's part. In fact, LGBTQ rights take an unexpected central role as classmates start a fight for them to be crowned "prom couple." James and Kat each tell their version of senior year's challenges in alternating chapters. Kat's story is told moving forward while James' story is told in reverse. At times this helps to maintain suspense, but it also proves annoying, as motivations remain murky until the end. Set in Burbank, California, the book features seemingly white protagonists; diversity in secondary characters is indicated through names. A good exploration of the heartbreak of losing a friend--and learning about oneself in the process. (Fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    November 15, 2019
    Grades 9-12 It's senior year of high school, and Kat and James, lifelong best friends, should be weathering it together. Instead, their friendship is splintering. For popular, vivacious Kat, James (named after her father) has always been a rock, supporting her through her mother's death and a tumultuous breakup with her longtime boyfriend. But when James' high-school-sweetheart parents divorce suddenly and her senior year veers offtrack, she withdraws, keeping huge secrets from Kat. When Kat meets Quinn and falls, for the first time, for another girl, the distance between them widens. In alternating first-person perspectives, James and Kat each tell their stories, and despite their flaws, both become deeply sympathetic characters through the course of their narratives. In an homage to The Last Five Years, a musical about the dissolution of a marriage, James' chapters start at the end of the girls' senior year and move backward, while Kat's start at the beginning. The nonlinear structure adds some suspense to what is otherwise a bittersweet and potent examination of friendship, its failings, and its worth.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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