Published by Harper Collins Australia on October 24th 2016
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Book Depository | Publisher | Booktopia
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Emily has been friends with Adriana since Year One, way back when Adriana had a huge gap between her teeth and was super skinny. Emily wasn't any less awkward looking, and the girls are inseparable all through primary and into high school.
But when Adriana's mother dies during the autumn of Year Eight, everything changes. Adriana's father accepts a job in Borneo and suddenly, the two best friends, who’ve always been together, are almost ten thousand miles apart. Despite the distance, and a rubbish internet connection, the girls manage to stay in touch for the next 18 months.
And then Adriana announces that she’s coming home.
Emily can’t wait for things to go back to how they were – except one thing is undeniably different from the moment Adriana’s plane touches down at Jefferson airport. Adriana has gone from awkward to AMAZING. As in Victoria’s Secret model level of amazing – an utter goddess.
People stop her in the street to tell her she should model. Boys throw themselves at her everywhere she goes. The popular girls at school (aka The Tens), who made Adriana’s life hell once upon a time, are now following her on Insta and sending her pics on snapchat.
Thankfully, Adriana is no different on the inside. She's still the same best friend Emily knows and loves, and they're certainly not going to lose their friendship over the fact that Adriana has lucked out genetically.
Emily just wishes that one guy, any guy, would want to get to know her for some other reason besides being Adriana's best friend. In the meantime, she's committed to helping Adriana manage the throngs of potential suitors who are texting, emailing and adding Emily on Facebook in the hope of an introduction to 'the goddess', as Adriana is still pretty shy around boys and no-one's made her want to step out of her shell.
That is, until she sees the brand new and super cute guy in Emily's art class. The one called Theo, who makes Emily laugh so much she can barely focus on her own canvas. The only guy that Emily’s ever felt a real connection with – and the first one that doesn't seem all that affected by Adriana's appearance.
Two best friends crushing on one very cute guy ... someone's going to get their heart broken.
MY BEST FRIEND IS A GODDESS is about what happens to a friendship when two girls change - and not just on the outside.
Don’t let the lighthearted cover fool you – My Best Friend is a Goddess explores the friendship between Emily and Adriana, but it also touches upon grief, self-loathing, jealousy and bullying. There’s so many themes here that were tackled with just the right amount of depth, touching upon how best friends can form, impact the growth and development of one another and how they can sometimes be strained under pressure.
Adriana is only 16, but she’s been through so much. From being bullied by the mean girls in school, to being rejected by a guy who she thought felt the same, and losing her mother to an accident, there’s no doubt that she’s harbouring some deep seated feelings of anger and resentment. But when she returns to school looking like an absolute goddess, everyone starts treating her differently, which is something that soon gets to her head.
Emily on the other hand, has always acted as Adriana’s protector. When she is bullied in school, she’s quick to stand up to Adriana’s bullies and they form a fast and close knit friendship. But when her best friend steps off the plane looking like a Victoria’s Secret supermodel, Emily starts dealing with her own insecurities when it comes to her own looks. Although she’s fearless, vivacious and charismatic, this is something that doesn’t even match up to Adriana’s supermodel looks in Emily’s eyes. And everything changes when they both meet and fall for Theo, the Henry Cavill/Theo James lookalike who starts at their school.
Although there were some parts that were dramaticised, the strain between Emily and Adriana’s friendship felt really natural. While there is high school drama and the strain does start from a guy coming between them, there is so much more to the story. Emily is so focused on Adriana’s physical appearance that she fails to realise how much her friend has really changed. She slips into the protector mode, treating Adriana’s feelings with gloves and ignoring her own feelings for Theo.
I thought it was quite cheesy when Theo entered the picture, especially when he laments about how beautiful Adriana is and how he isn’t afraid to share his romanticised feelings about art and creativity to Emily. There were a few times where I rolled my eyes at the things that he said, and he felt a little too perfect in my eyes. Later in the book, I started to appreciate Theo especially when he started opening up about his own insecurities. He’s a guy who isn’t afraid to be sensitive or to show his emotions which I really appreciated.
I don’t want to admit it, but I’ve known things aren’t the same with us ever since the first day she came back. We’re growing up. It’s not always going to be the same dynamic we had at fourteen.
Not only does My Best Friend is a Goddess explore friendship in depth, but it also explores the glass ceiling of beauty. Attractive people getting what they want, succeeding over others, getting more opportunities and the power they have over others. Although this is unfair, it’s also the truth and it’s explored in such a stark and honest way.
For a contemporary, the book felt rather long at times, especially with so many heavy topics being explored. I thought some of the stories about Greek mythology and art history could have been left out or shortened. It feels very much like a Morgan Matson book, with the long length, the maturity of the characters and focus on friendship. On one hand, I was also frustrated with Adriana’s actions in the later half of the book to be selfish and cold. But it was also realistic because of all the pain she was internalising, which is a credit to Tara’s writing.
It’s the same with any beautiful person. It’s like they’re a magnet and the rest of us are shards of metal – we can’t help being drawn in.
Boys can come and go but friends can last forever which is surprisingly, something that we rarely see explored in books. Friendship is such an important aspect of our lives and I love it when books focus on friendships before anything else. The story of a friendship gone wrong is something that is close to my heart, and My Best Friend is a Goddess captures this in an honest and relatable way. Dealing with multiple issues that we’ve no doubt faced in some point in our lives, this is an important story for all.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks Tara Englington for sending me a copy of the book!