Augusta “Gus” Curtis was banking on one person to keep her from feeling totally alone and backward on her 30th birthday: her aloof boyfriend Nate. So when she catches him lip-locked with college friend Helen, Gus is forced to consider how well she really knew or liked any of these people — including herself.
Frenemies is definitely a novel exploring the nature of women’s friendship, as Megan Crane herself notes in the afterword. She says she wanted to write about women’s relationships and look at it all from a Mean Girls perspective. I think she succeeded in that. But was it all that interesting? Not really.
I thought Gus was this strong-minded, almost rebellious librarian — an interesting concept — only to realize she’s quite dependent on those around her, including best friends Georgia and Amy Lee. That’s okay — I wouldn’t immediately hold that against her — but it takes so long in the novel to see Gus’s growth that it just becomes . . . frustrating. I wanted her to break out of the blindness to see that when Nate says he “can’t be” what she needs him to be, he means it! And move on. She wasn’t in love with him — everyone sees that. She’s just angry that Helen, her so-called “friend,” took what was hers, thereby destroying the illusion Gus had created for her life.
The novel is well written and full of witty banter, and I was relieved to see how far Gus had come at the end of the book, but getting there made me feel a little tired. Many of the peripheral characters are very unlikeable, including Henry, Georgia’s former “crush to end all crushes” and Nate’s housemate. I wanted to feel something about him, but I didn’t.
Overall, a quick read looking at friends-as-family and the way women depend on and subsequently hurt one another. Frenemies did have some insightful scenes, but overall just fell a little flat for me.
3 out of 5!