I saw this book announced last year and the blurb caught my attention. I eagerly awaited its arrival on Netgalley. I started following Abby on social media and was curious to know if the book would be as funny as she is online.
In early 2019 I started seeing bloggers and bookstagrammers get ARCs and I waited patiently. I started to see 5 stars reviews for the book from big name publications and still I waited for a sign I might get the ARC. I also avoided all reviews of the book. Until one Friday in early April, I finally got the ARC widget. I then had to decide to read right away or wait. The book pubs on June 11. I am notoriously bad about writing a review when the book doesn’t come out for months. I took a chance and started the book the next day, a Saturday night. I stayed up until 4 am reading this book. That’s how good it is. I kept doing the “I will just read one more chapter”, but well we all know how that works out.
Friends, Jimenez strikes a near perfect balance between funny and tragic. She wrote a story that centers on the heroine’s infertility but did it in such a way that felt so realistic, honest, and incredibly raw but also hilarious.
Josh and Kristen have a “meet disaster” when he accidentally rear-ends the truck she is driving. They exchange some banter. They are unknown to each other. They soon meet again and realize they are the best people in their best friends wedding.
Kristen is a “salty bitch”. She’s 24. She’s struggled with difficult menstrual periods for 12 years. She’s seen doctors and done all the things to help. It hasn’t. She decides to get a hysterectomy. But won’t have the surgery until after her best friend’s wedding. Kristen is in a relationship with someone else. It’s pretty clear though early on that he isn’t a true love interest for her.
Josh has 6 sisters and isn’t afraid to buy Kristen pads/tampons when she gets her period. This made me swoon. He is also incredibly kind and patient. Jimenez’s real life dog, Stuntman Mike makes a fictional appearance as Kristen’s dog. Stuntman hates everyone, except Josh.
Kristen and Josh have amazing chemistry. Although Kristen is in a relationship with someone else, she can’t deny her physical and emotional attraction to Josh. She does not act on her feelings with Josh until the other relationship is ended.
Josh comes from a large family. He wants a large family. Kristen is having a hysterectomy and believes that she will never be able to conceive a child/children biologically. So she decides she can be friends with Josh and even have sex with Josh, but that she can’t have a relationship with him. This drives the bulk of the conflict. Typically when a character makes a decision like this it makes me bonkers. But it worked for me. I think perhaps because Kristen’s motivation came from what she believed to be a good place.
During the time period where they are “just friends who have sex sometimes” it is very clear that Kristen and Josh have such a deep connection. That connection and chemistry is what really made this book wonderful for me and kept me reading until 4am.
Here are some quotes I pulled that I think show the connection that Kristen and Josh have.
“Good night.” I could tell he was smiling. I gave up my struggles and tried to relax. The rise and fall of his chest moved rhythmically against my back, and with every exhale, I sank deeper into him, like I belonged there. Like I was loved. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to push the feelings down.
“Don’t smile at me.” She gave me a warning glare. She’d been feisty from the moment she woke up. It was adorable.
This. Could not. Be. A. Relationship. He pushed up from the sofa. “All right. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.” He didn’t look at me before he left. I buried my face in my hands. What the fuck was I doing? I had to cut him loose. This was torture. This was ridiculous. I just wanted to be normal with him. I wanted to treat him the way he made me feel. Give him all my attention and kiss him and hug him. Tell him I’m in love with him.
He chuckled and I smiled weakly at him. God, he was my hero. In the last thirty minutes, Josh had done the modern-day equivalent of slaying a dragon. He saved me. Twice. Once from the Ice Queen and then again from starvation. Food was my currency. Hungry was an emotion for me. I felt that shit in my soul. I looked at the napkin he gave me. He liked all this stuff— celery, pickles, olives, shrimp. Either my hangry was truly terrifying or he gave it to me because he was taking care of me. He hadn’t eaten yet either. He was hungry too, but he didn’t even keep an olive for himself.
Josh and Kristen are caretakers. Josh takes care of Kristen when she needs it, Kristen takes care of her best friend Sloan when she needs it. Things breakdown when Kristen needs care and Josh isn’t there. But he does come around and they work through their mess.
This book contains a tragedy to a secondary character. It was heartbreaking. I could feel the pain and grief of all the characters. It was hard to read but also I couldn’t not read it. I read this book a few weeks after reading the Rebecca Yarros book with the death of the child. In my opinion, if there is a good way to kill a character, Jimenez did it in The Friend Zone. It didn’t feel forced. It felt like a thing that could actually happen. And it didn’t happen at the 93% mark. It happened earlier so you could actually see how the characters grieve and then move forward with their lives. Kristen and Josh were a mess. But they worked through it. Slowly. And eventually together. Again, I swooned.
I first read this book in early April but didn’t immediately write my review. I re-read it in mid-May and it held up that time around. I wanted to make sure my immediate excitement wasn’t completely skewing my opinion of the book. There was a small amount of “not like other girls” thrown in the book. But it was very mild and I was so invested in the story I was able to move on from it. I was completely invested in Kristen and Josh finding their HEA together. I fully believed it from the beginning to the end. I absolutely loved Jimenez’s voice and how she blended humor and tragedy. I am already invested in the characters for book two, out in 2020 (sad face). I strongly recommend this book. I know it’s a high price point, but it is worth it.