Vivian and Lee were best friends in college but became estranged after a falling out over Lee’s promiscuous behavior hits a little too close to home during a visit with Vivian's family.
In her debut novel, Shapiro offers an exploration of the complex world of female friendship, womanhood, and the history that binds old friends together. Lee and Vivian are reunited after several years when Lee asks her friend to accompany her on a road trip to learn about her father, a rock star who died in a car accident when she was only 4 years old. The trip comes at a turning point for Vivian, who has just learned she’s pregnant. Her husband, Andy, has a history with Lee, and the trio's intersecting stories make up the bulk of the narrative. Told primarily from Vivian’s perspective, the journey forces Vivian to confront the friendship she and Lee had, the life she has now, and her own lingering unhappiness. The characters ring hollow at times; Vivian is an overshadowed sidekick to the glamorous, confident, and wealthy Lee. But their friendship is realistically complex, defined by moments of betrayal, loyalty, and closeness. The author is able to deftly convey the hierarchy of their friendship, and all the trappings that come with it, communicating the give and take between love, pity, and jealousy that drives the tension between Lee and Vivian. Although interesting at times, the subplot of Lee’s tragic family and missing father feels unnecessary given the richness of the female friendship Shapiro has imagined.
Messy and complicated, this novel unravels the competing nature of affection and jealousy in friendship, illuminating the stickier facets of emotional dependency between friends.