2013 · 4 stars · contemporary · ya

My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter

Title: My Best Friend, Maybe
Author: Caela Carter
Pub. Date: June 3, 2014
Source: ARC via publisher (thank you, Bloomsbury!)
Summary: It has been three long, lonely, boring years for Colette. Ever since her best friend Sadie dumped her right before they started high school, Colette has tried to be perfect for everyone: for her parents, her younger brothers, her teachers and even her boyfriend, Mark. But she’s bored. And she misses Sadie.

So when Sadie tells Colette out of the blue that she needs her old friend to join her on a Pepper family vacation to the Greek Islands, one that leaves only a few days after the invitation is issued, Colette is surprised to find herself thinking about it. But can Colette get over the hurt of the past three years to be there for Sadie now that she’s called on? Can Colette choose Sadie over Mark after all this time? Can Colette give up her perfect life for a little adventure? A little drama? A summer with Sadie?
Genre: YA, Contemporary, GLBT
Rating:

Newcomers to Carter’s work take note: this is not an author who’s afraid to tackle heavy subjects. Last year’s Me, Him, Them, & It focused on pregnancy and now her latest, My Best Friend, Maybe sheds light on sexuality and what happens to a friendship when it’s called into question.

Until three years ago Colette and Sadie were best friends and virtually inseparable. Then everything changed just before high school. Suddenly Sadie went out of her way to avoid Colette and, while the two could have talked non-stop for hours just a few years before, any chance encounters in the school halls are now met with awkward and forced hellos. For Colette this sudden change in Sadie is met with confusion and hurt – what did Colette do? Was there something Colette didn’t do that made Sadie all but abandon their friendship? What – if anything – can be done to fix things?

The hole left by Sadie has been hastily patched over with a church youth group and a new boyfriend, Mark – a boy Colette’s parents heartily approve of; Sadie’s free-spirited mother and laid back attitude toward rules never failed to raise an eyebrow. Colette’s relationship with Mark is practically perfect: he always treats her like a princess, showers her with gifts, and never goes further than the chastest of kisses. With a youth group trip quickly approaching, Sadie presents an invitation that changes everything. Colette must choose between spending the summer with Mark on a retreat or visiting the Greek Islands with her ex-best friend – and possibly find some answers.

Slowly but surely GLBT themes are emerging in Young Adult literature and I welcome it with open arms. Sadly, all too often a character’s sexuality is glossed over or revealed for little more than shock value and adds absolutely nothing to the story. Even worse is the sitcom-style ending: everything is wrapped up nicely in a pretty bow and any bullying/harsh remarks/bigotry is forgiven and forgotten. While My Best Friend, Maybe left me wanting more, the portrayal of the characters was wonderful and heartbreaking.

My Best Friend, Maybe is told through Colette’s perspective and until the ending we only know her side of the story as to what happened the night her friendship with Sadie fell apart. What Carter did extremely well was keep me guessing. The back cover of my ARC states: “A beautiful and multi-layered story of friendship, romance, and sexuality…” and, naturally, I expected these would all come into play between two characters. Carter caught me off guard though and I really enjoyed that. Yes, there’s friendship, romance, and sexuality, but the storylines aren’t one and the same.

Over time the reader discovers more of Sadie’s side of the story as well as her reasoning for inviting Colette along. While I was rooting for Sadie the entire time, her motives gave me pause. Colette’s Bible-thumping mother also plays a large role and her actions were appalling and gut-wrenching. Although I finished the book in a single sitting (something I rarely do) I had to walk away more than once because of Colette’s mother. It certainly says something about Carter’s abilities as a writer that she was able to stir up such emotion in me.

Even though I felt the ending was a bit too sweet and sitcom-y, I devoured it in a handful of hours. The day I received My Best Friend, Maybe in the mail I immediately sat down to read it and didn’t stop until I was finished. Caela Carter made a name for herself with her debut and her sophomore effort proves she’s not a one-hit wonder. My Best Friend, Maybe is an absolute joy of a novel and definitely one to pick up!

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