Thanks to Book Club Cookbook and St. Martin's Griffin for a gifted copy. All comments and opinions are my own.
This was my first Kristin Hannah novel. It took me a little over 170 pages before I actually wanted to keep reading instead of feeling it was a duty to find out what everyone was raving about. This is the story of two friends who meet in 1974 when in middle school, and remain "best friends forever" for the next 30 years. I had read nearly half the novel before I began to care about these characters. Now that I've finished it, I'm still not sure how much I actually liked the book and if I would recommend it.
Themes of friendship and families, loyalty and trust are portrayed against the music, clothes, hairstyles, and culture of the 1970s and 1980s. The two girls are very different in personality and background, yet come to depend on each other for support like only best friends can. An additional theme that was repeatedly pondered by the characters was career vs. stay-at-home motherhood. I liked that the author didn't preach about this, and left the debate open-ended.
By the end of the novel I was sobbing - both because of the plot as well as because Tully and Kate's relationship reminded me of my own long-term friendship that started in high school, continued for decades and is now sadly lukewarm.
To sum it up, this is a novel of mothers and daughters, laughter and tears, love and loyalty, and the kind of friendship that only women can provide for each other.