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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Best Friends

    It’s late August. The moist summer air is soaking your skin, as laughter echoes through the air and smoke from a nearby bonfire billows into tiny clouds that hover gently around your friends. The laughter dies down as the silence begins to grow and something in the air begins to change.

    We’ve all been through it before. As the warm August air turns to a brisk cool breeze, the school books come out and a new life unfolds. For most of us, the transition from high school to college meant a room away from home, parties on a school night and sleeping till four in the afternoon. But for Clare, freshman year meant the start of her life.

    Clare Mann, the main character in Martha Moody’s latest novel, “Best Friends,” is a sheltered, 18-year-old Protestant living in Ohio in 1973. As a Midwestern girl, Clare is looking for adventure and while being obsessed with the Berkley protests of the late 1960s, she is desperate for conflict and unrest. Her roommate Sally Rose, on the other hand, is practically being flown to college on a private jet.

    Clare and Sally, two freshman girls, are thrown into a small room together at Oberlin College. The pair struggle to reach a compromise, but being from two opposite ends of the spectrum, is making life difficult. Sally is a young, rich and beautiful girl from the southern coast of sunny California, who spends evening hours on the phone with her father gossiping about Clare and their other suitemates. Clare listens intently as Sally’s voice flows down the hall, and she can’t help but become intrigued.

    Clare’s fascination with Sally, a girl from a world she cannot fathom, intensifies as the novel continues. She is flown out to California by Sally’s charismatic, smooth talking father and once she catches a glimpse of L.A., she’s hooked. On her first visit, Clare discovers that Sally has a mother and a younger brother, both of whom Sally has barely mentioned. The years roll by as the secrets begin to unravel and Clare gets tangled.

    Moody’s novel captures both the essence and strains of young friendship. Clare and Sally maintain their relationship long after college but not without a fight. The girls ride the roller coaster of life together while the obstacles of marriage, divorce, drugs and death are itching to tear them apart. Even best friends have their limits.

    Things begin to take a turn for the worst as Clare watches a family she once envied, fall between the cracks. As Sally struggles to pick up the pieces of her broken family, Clare begins to learn secrets that no one should ever have to tell a best friend.

    “Best Friends” is an enticing glimpse of what friendship after college could be like if we were playing a role in a soap opera. But stripped of their Hollywood drama, Moody’s characters possess the emotional baggage that we all bring to our friendships. Together, Clare and Sally will remind you of the beauty a best friend can bring to your life and the pain, sorrow and anger their intimacy can inflict upon you.

    There is two times when “Best Friends” should be read; your freshman year or senior year. As a freshman, the book will comfort you as you leave your high school friends behind surrounded by the glow of the summer night’s camp fire, at that party on the beach. But as a senior, Clare and Sally will remind you that friendship doesn’t end when you graduate, it is when it truly begins.

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