My Best Friend's Girl, by Dorothy Koomson

>> Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TITLE: My Best Friend's Girl
AUTHOR: Dorothy Koomson

PAGES: 437

SETTING: Contemporary England
TYPE: I always have trouble categorising Koomson's book. This would be serious chick lit, with a large dose of Women's Fiction.

REASON FOR READING: I love the author's books

What would you do for the friend who broke your heart? Best friends Kamryn Matika and Adele Brannon thought nothing could come between them - until Adele did the unthinkable and slept with Kamryn's fiance, Nate. Worse still, she got pregnant and had his child. When Kamryn discovered the truth about their betrayal she vowed never to see any of them again. Two years later, Kamryn receives a letter from Adele asking her to visit her in hospital. Adele is dying and begs Kamryn to adopt her daughter, Tegan. With a great job and a hectic social life, the last thing Kamryn needs is a five year old to disrupt things. Especially not one who reminds her of Nate. But with no one else to take care of Tegan and Adele fading fast, does she have any other choice? So begins a difficult journey that leads Kamryn towards forgiveness, love, responsibility and, ultimately, a better understanding of herself.
Years earlier, Kamryn discovered her best friend had slept with her fiance, Nate. And it gets worse. The mysterious father of Adele's little girl, whose identity she always refused to reveal? Yep, that was actually none other than Nate.

Feeling betrayed and completely shattered, Kamryn immediately broke with the lot of them and never looked back. But now Adele has managed to get through Kamryn's barriers and contacted her. Adele has terminal cancer and is desperate to make sure her daughter, Tiga, doesn't end up being raised by her vile, vile grandfather.

Much as she always adored little Tiga, Kamryn has never wanted children, and is reluctant to make that bitch Adele any promises. But when she gives in to her sense of duty and goes to check up on Tiga, she realises Adele's fears were well founded, and she simply cannot leave the little girl with her abusive grandfather.

And fitting in a small girl in mourning into her life isn't the only challenge Kamryn is facing. Her boss, with whom she had an excellent relationship, has just retired, and the company has brought in a new American manager to take over. The new guy, Luke, immediately makes it clear that he disapproves of everything Kamryn does. She clearly only got to her position because she was sleeping with her former boss, she's incompetent, and he even insinuates he thinks she's overweight (yeah, he's awfully professional, that Luke).

But the man also has a non-asshole side, and that comes to light when he meets Tiga. The two immediately fall in love with each other, and Luke begins to spend more and more time with the girl, and by extension, with Kamryn. But no sooner do they get over their initial misconceptions and start tentatively developing a relationship, Nate shows up. He wants his daughter, and he wants Kamryn back.

Describing this book as angsty is an understatement. But it's the good type of angsty. I never feel manipulated by Koomson, even as I try to swallow the lump in my throat and struggle not to cry. Everyone here is neither villain nor all good, and I do mean everyone. Even Nate and Adele, whom I started out considering disgusting cheats with no redeeming features whatsoever, end up being understandable and real, and definitely not all bad.

Kamryn was the one I felt for the most, though. Koomson doesn't flinch at showing us how badly she struggles with this situation she's been placed in through no fault of her own. She has never, ever wanted children, and has built a life for herself that she loves and which really does fulfill her. When she suddenly has to take Riga into that life, it's not all roses. There's no nonsense about her immediately realising what the meaning of life really is, or anything like that, which, as someone who has absolutely no desire to have children, I really appreciated. She does love Tiga, and ends up with a life she still enjoys, but there's no question that she wouldn't have chosen to raise a child otherwise, and that having Tiga doesn't mean she now wants children of her own.

The only reason this is not an A is the ending. I won't reveal who Kamryn ends up with and how, but I will say I found it all a bit unsatisfying. It didn't really feel like a HEA ending. It felt as if she was settling, and that for both her and the man she ends up with, it was all more about loving Tiga than about loving each other. I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed.



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