Monday, May 4, 2020

When You Were Everything review

Cleo and Layla have known each other since they were both twelve years old and have been the very best of friends. They are both girls of color, living in bustling New York City. Going into their junior year of high school, it seems they've had a major falling out. This is a nuanced young adult contemporary novel about what the aftermath of  an imploded friendship looks like.

There is a plethora of suspense as the story jolts forward in two time-lines, Then and Now, leaving readers to wonder how on Earth such a close and loving pair of friends managed to turn on each other so completely. What starts as a few small incidents showing that the two young women are slowly growing apart, quickly escalates into a death by a thousand cuts, as their friendship is tested by conflicts over cute boys and popular cliques of girls. As the story unfolds, one betrayal after another is revealed, eventually laying bare all of the gory details of the kind of online bullying Queen Bee mean girls are capable of. Cleo is truly a sympathetic narrator, even as she gradually admits to herself how controlling and difficult a friend she has been.  Fans of Angie Thomas or Jacqueline Woodson and anyone who's ever been a friend, or lost a friend needs to read this book.

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