24 May 2011
Book Review: To My Best Friends by Sam Baker
I read Sam Baker's last release The Step-Mothers Support Group a few years when it came out and really loved it, so when I saw Sam was back this summer with her new book, I couldn't wait to read it. I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of the cover, I think its a little bit bland for my liking - yes, it fits in with the story of the book but it really wouldn't be a cover that would attract me to picking up the book which is a shame, but luckily for me, the story inside more than makes up for it so I am glad that I picked the book and gave it a read. With the subject matter, it is a little depressing but there are light tones in there which stop it being completely miserable, thank goodness!
The book begins with a very poorly Nicci starting write her letters to her friends, and so the book does start with a fairky depressing tone. Soon after this, it cuts to Nicci's funeral and aftermath so for a few pages there really isn't anything that happy about it which was odd yet I was strangely compulsed to keep reading. Due to Nicci dying so early on, we don't get to know her as a character at all, only through the memories of her friends, which are interspersed throughout the present day story, and are flashbacks relating to certain items of Nicci's clothing that are special to her, and I really loved the way Baker approached this style of telling Nicci's story. It was also a look back at the other characters too, which was interesting comparing them to their current personas.
The other 3 female characters were easy to follow because they were all so different. Yes, they are all Nicci's friends but that is where the similarities end really - Mona is a single mum, working hard to provide for her young son whilst hiding a huge secret from her friends, one she knows they won't approve of. Lizzie is married but very unhappily so, and desperately wants to have children. Jo is a step-mother, something she loves, and the accountant for Nicci's clothing shop but she really wants a child of her own with her husband. I love how Baker weaves all these stories together, the characters were all very likeable, and had their own problems to deal with, as well as the passing of their best friend. It affects them all in very different ways which I think was a realistic representation of such an event, and as such you can sympathise with the women and how they all deal differently with how life turns out after Nicci's death.
Yes, the main premise of the book is quite sad, and yes some thing do happen in the book which don't necessarily make it a very happy one and while I do feel it could have done with a few more happy things in it to just cheer it up slightly, I really did enjoy the book as a whole and found myself really absorbed by the entire story and finding out how things would end up for the women. While Nicci's cancer is a big part of the book, Baker doesn't go too much into detail with it and I think just the general mentions and feelings in the book were enough. I have to say I really loved the journey that Nicci's widower David took throughout the book as well, not often in chick lit do we see how a wife's death affects a husband yet Baker is careful to treat David's story with respect and I felt it was realistically done and a pleasure to read. The writing style, the characters, the growth of these characters all made for a fantastic reading experience and I would definitely recommend it.