I firmly believe that a girl is the sum of her parts. Her parts are her friends.
Ashley, Victoria and I as tiny people
I grew up alongside two really cool girls, Ashley and Victoria. We met in Pre-K when we were three years old and now, twelve freaking years later, we’re still best friends. We’re all very different. Ashley is kind of quiet, but thoughtful and humble and a realist, which I really appreciate because I spend my days up in the air. She loves to read and she’s really funny. Victoria is funny, crazy, stylish and has big, exciting aspirations for herself that she is, of course, going to realize. And we’re all dreamers. I could go on for a while talking about them, but that’s not the point of this post.
The point is that you are (or I was, at least) shaped by the people you surround yourself with. These two girls have lived my life with me and I’m lucky. They make me scream and laugh and love, but mostly, they make me better. They are probably the people who have contributed the most to who I am. You don’t get to choose your family, and, contrary to popular belief, I don’t really think you get to choose your friends either. I mean, we were three. And we found each other. And we stuck with each other for sixteen years. I don’t anticipate ever not being friends with them and I don’t think they do either. We became who we are together and that’s something that we will always have.
Friendship. That’s what Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham is all about. Alice, Summer and Tiernan are ex-best friends. They grew up together, obsessed with the transcendent boy band Level3. Then, in freshman year, something big went down and they stopped talking. Four years later, they’ve graduated from high school and Level3 has planned a reunion show. Impulsively, Alice buys three tickets for the show, even though she hasn’t spoken to Summer and Tiernan in ages. She just has a feeling and goes for it.
I loved this book. I think that too often, YA literature is only ever about falling in love, and rarely about your real soulmates, your friends. I love a good YA romance as much as the next girl, but sometimes I wonder about the other people that occupy a teenage girl’s mind. This story was the answer to my wonderings.
Graham tells a vivid story about what it’s like to be a girl in a three-person friendship and the complications that go hand-in-hand with that. There’s this one paragraph where Graham describes this kind of friendship that I thought was just spot on:
“Even during the glory days of her friendship with Summer and Tiernan, it was a rare moment when all three were equally close. There were always shifting allegiances, always an odd one out. It wasn’t like any of them did it on purpose. It was just part of the package deal with a three-person friendship. That, and the fact that if only two of you were together, chances were you’d talk about the third. Nothing you wouldn’t say to her face (at least that was the unwritten rule).” -Graham. 207.
I mean, come on. That is just incredibly accurate! Because friendship is great, but it’s also intense and complicated sometimes. And Graham knows that and while she beautifully writes about the good stuff, she also writes about the not-so-good stuff. No one is perfect and no relationship is perfect, but they can be so good, and that’s what she communicates in this book.
As a side note, there was this other part that I feel is just awesome. Summer spends her time writing poetry. She loves the English language and it’s just a cool facet to her character. But there’s this one moment when the three of them shared this look that communicated everything they were feeling:
“For someone who loved the English language as much as Summer, she realized that some of her favorite moments in life came when words were superfluous. The silent exchanges, those were real life poetry.” -Graham. 281.
Side note aside, Graham tells the ever-true story about what happens if you break up with your friends. How horrible it can feel. How it will follow you for years, wherever you go.
Summer is the popular one, Tiernan is the rebel and Alice is the glue that holds them together. As they journey from New England to Texas in a big green bus to see Level3, they rediscover their friendship while simultaneously trying to hash out and ignore the past. Memories of the good times they shared as friends resurface, along with the memory of the thing that broke them apart. As they rush to deal with who they are today, they figure out who they were four years ago and how they’ve changed. They’re not the same people who used to sit in the big, green bus and listen to Level3 all day. They’re different as individuals and they’re different as friends. But the question is, can they ever get back to the place where they used to be friends? As they struggle to come up with an answer, Graham entertains with hilarious storytelling about a destined-for-doom road trip.
The whole time you’re reading the book, you’re constantly wondering what it was that broke these girls apart. It’s this big suspenseful thing. And then, when Graham finally tells us what happened, she does it in a way that still leaves some stuff to be imagined. And at first that really bugged me. But then I realized that it’s not about why they broke up, it’s about why they found their ways back to each other.
What the three girls come to realize is that, no matter how much you want to, you can never get back to where you used to be. But you can go forward and you can move on and grow together. And that’s what friendship really is, right? It’s finding and accepting each other no matter what. It’s growing up together and discovering who you are. It’s being there for each other and loving each other.
At least that’s what I got from Graham’s Reunited.
9 out of 10. Go read it. Also, look at the cover. It’s so darn cute.