**Attention For the Love of Dewey Readers! 5 out of 5 coffee beans for this book!!!***
Between Friends is unlike any of the other Debbie Macomber books I have read, which at times can be a little sappy, homey, and Hallmark Movie-esc. On the other hand, this novel is deep, powerful, and tear jerking in a way that touches your soul, makes you think about life, your values, the world, and the role you play in it. The closest book that I have read which I can compare this novel to is Kristin Hannah's Firefly Lane. (Which is one of my favorite books.)
To give you a bit of a summary, this novel is written in the form of both letters and journal entries between two best friends, Jillian Lawton and Lesley Adamski. I thought that a novel written in this format would make me feel disconnected to the characters, but I have never felt like I was present in a novel quite as intensely as this. The novel begins in 1948 with the birth of Lesley, and follows the girls up into 2010, showing them first as young girls and how they mature and grow. Jillian is strong willed and independent, and is perhaps the character that I most identify with. She very pro-women's rights, pro-choice, yearns to advance in her career, and follows her own heart and dreams - even if these dreams disagree with others. (This next sentence may be considered a spoiler.) Jillian falls in love at a young age with a man named Nick, who tragically dies in Vietnam and leaves her heartbroken for many years. This untimely loss of what she believes to be her soulmate, effects her deeply. Part of Jillian's story is learning how to become whole again, to live her life, and not let life slide by wasted.
Lesley may be considered to be the weaker of the two girls, and for me personally, Lesley symbolized the parts of myself and even of life that scare me. I think that as women, we often feel pressured to be able to do it all. From young girls, we are told that we can be anything we want to be. We go to school to have a career, but we want a family of our own, and even sometimes feel pressured to have one. There's a certain balance that we strive to find between independence, a successful career, and raising a family. And there's a lot of guilt that get's thrown into the mix. Lesley grew up in a poor family with a mother who became pregnant at a very young age, only to marry the father who became an abusive alcoholic. When Lesley becomes a teenager, she was raped by her boyfriend (newly ex-boyfiend), ends up pregnant, and marries him, thus sort of reliving her mother's mistakes. While reading this novel I wanted Lesley to be strong. At first I wanted her to get an abortion. Then I wanted her to raise her child, go to school, and leave her husband. However, she kept giving her marriage another shot, and giving her family all that she had and who she was. Lesley came close so many times to leaving her husband, but just about every time she did, she always returned.
This novel tackles to many topics such as war and the importance of supporting men who dutifully go to war (even if you don't believe in the war yourself) so that loved ones do not pass away in vain, marriage, alcoholism, rape, Catholicism vs. Protestantism, female reproductive health, birth control & abortion, career & family, cancer, etc. I honestly feel like I could talk about this book forever, and delve into all these topics so deeply it could take up the entire blog space. But rather than do that I'm just going to beg you all to read it. And when you do read it, let's talk!