The quiet half of two best friends grapples with growing apart in the wake of her BFF’s eating disorder.
Hank (Hannah) is dedicated to the electric glow of Zoe, her firecracker bestie. Where Zoe has star quality (and the resume to prove it), Hank is a dedicated audience. It’s a symbiotic relationship that gives Zoe the comfort of constant adoration (perfect for a social media junkie) and Hank constant backstage access (great for a girl with “mud-brown hair” and a one-friend focus). The loyalty devolves to something less healthy when Zoe’s eating disorder goes unchecked by fully aware Hank. But when a hero has shortcomings, speaking up doesn’t happen as easily as trying to avoid a betrayal. Told from Hank’s articulate, insightful, and pretty funny perspective, the chapters are punctuated by journal entries from Zoe (brief, chuckleworthy musings on recovery and double-crosses written from rehab). Both girls have tricky home lives (Hank is nervous her mom’s boyfriend will dissolve everyone’s memory of her dead dad; Zoe’s cheating father is divorcing her mother, who is more interested in Pilates and lamenting lost youth than parenting). Though Hank doesn’t see herself as captivating as Zoe, she doesn’t delve into pitiful self-deprecation (she knows she’s smart, loyal, and a talented musician)—a narrative choice that makes her eventual confrontation of Zoe believable. All main characters are white; Hank and her mother are Ashkenazi Jews.
Here’s how to speak up even if it hurts. (Fiction. 14-18)