Sunday 29 September 2013

My Best Friends and Other Enemies

My Best Friends and Other Enemies
Catherine Wilkins
London, Nosy Crow, 2012, 202p

I found myself pleasantly surprised by this novel. I haven't picked up a book about everyday teenage girls in a while, mainly because I read so many when I was young and assumed they were all the same. I also thought it would probably completely bore me now I have grown up a little bit. 

In My Best Friend and Other Enemies, Jessica is trying to deal with the fact that her oldest friend Natalie is hanging out with someone new. Amelia is the new girl at school, but she is mean to Jessica, making snide comments on her appearance and excluding her from meet ups. 

Luckily for the reader, Jessica is not a bitter depressive, nor a vengeful aggressive, but somewhere in between. When Amelia and Natalie start a a gang, Jessica creates her own, but has little success in getting all the members to ever get together. She toys with various plots to get her own back, but is smart and conscientious enough to know that she needs to be the bigger person - though this doesn't completely prevent her from occasionally conflicting with Amelia. 

I found the most endearing thing about this story was Jessica's family. They are on "economy drive", striving to save pennies and consume all that is stored in their freezer. This family are funny and sweet, with Jessica's little brother, Ryan, gallivanting around the house pretending to be a spaceman for most of the book. And unlike so many other teenage novels, Jessica does not moan about her strange relatives, but is able to laugh and love. 

Jessica is not a perfect protagonist, nor is she the typical teenage girl you get in so many of these sorts of books, and that is why I actually enjoyed this particular one. She is flawed, human, and her actions leave somewhere between good and bad. But her heart is in the right place and her hurt is understandable. I think I just appreciated that this isn't book that was overwhelmed with drama!

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