Author: Susan Mallery
The Friends We Keep is the latest by New York Bestselling Author Susan Mallery, it is the second n the Mischief Bay series and the first of her books I have read.
Set in Mischief Bay, California The Friends We Keep takes a look at the lives of a group of friends with some pretty hefty baggage. It wasn’t until I was halfway through the book that I discovered this was the second in a series and it really didn’t detract from the story at all.
The Friends We keep focuses mainly on the lives of Nicole, Hayley and Gabby and their families. There are other friends mentioned but these ladies steal the limelight and the story centres around them, it’s told in the third person but from their three perspectives.
Gabby is the mother of twin 5-yr olds and stepmom to a 15yr old. She is counting down the days until the girls start school and she returns to work. She has enjoyed the time at home with them but is ready to return to her career. She loves her family, she loves her time with them but now it’s time for her to rejoin the work force and regain her career and her identity beyond wife and mother.
Hayley and Nicole are a little more difficult to simply describe. The three women are very different and their families have little in common yet the women are close friends. Their growth throughout the book allows for a very insightful look at their issues by their friends. They are close but outside of the situation so can see with that clarity that is difficult to summon in the midst of the issues.
The dynamics each of them face are such that I had all sorts of predictions about how I thought things would turn out and I don’t know that any of them eventuated.
Gabby, Nicole and Hayley all had very real and relatable issues and they were such that they made it difficult to want to talk to each other, though invariably did.
Hayley was desperate to become a mother but she wasn’t prepared to look at any option but pregnancy and birth. even when it was clear that her body was done and couldn’t handle it anymore. Getting pregnant wasn’t the issue, she could manage that bit but staying pregnant was not quite so simple. Hayley has invested everything in her dreams to see a pregnancy through but the costs are getting way too high.
Nicole is a single mother and though she mourns her divorce it’s ore the lack of a relationship between her son and his father that she is upset about. Six year old Tyler is a big fan of book series Brad the Dragon, whose author happens to be local. Nicole can’t understand her ex and his failure to adhere to their parenting agreement.
The Friends We Keep is very much a tale about every day life for every day women dealing with issues faced by many women everywhere. These women are dealing with teen pregnancy, return to work, infertility, adoption and the fear of moving on and falling in love again.
I enjoyed the story and I liked the lead characters, I especially liked their development throughout the story. I didn’t complete connect through, I’m not sure if that’s got to do with my headspace or the book. The perspectives seemed to change abruptly and there was often no indication on the page of the switch, but my copy was from NetGalley so I’m not sure if that would be the same in a print copy. I am really not sure why I didn’t love this book because I did like the story and all the characters. I could relate to their issues and commend their growth.
Hayley is a character whose growth was phenomenal, she gained great wisdom through her journey and she used it to look back at her life and make the changes she need to find her happiness. Gabby was in a tough position and it took for things to get really messy before she worked out what it was she really wanted and cement a real bond with her stepdaughter.
The struggles faced by these women were real and they were hard and they got messy. They were the type of struggles that often show you who your true friends are, and the fact that these women stuck together and helped one another grow the experiences instead of fading off into the distance when the going got tough showed that they had support for the long haul.
The Friends We Keep isn’t a light read, but it is certainly an enjoyable one. I would be interested to read more about Mischief Bay and the first in the series tells of Nicole’s marriage breakdown and focuses on three different friends. These are contemporary stories fraught with tension and issues that don’t offer a happy ending, but this one did offer the glimpse of possible happy endings.
It was worth the read but it could be quite hard hitting for some readers, maybe a little close to home for some who read to escape their every day life and it’s issues.
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