When Kamryn Ryn Matika gets a call from college friend Adele Del Brannon, she reluctantly heads to the hospital where Adele is dying of cancer. The two had been odd couple friends (working-class Ryn is black, posh Adele is white) while attending Leeds University, but their friendship did not survive Del's admission of an affair with Ryn's fiancé Nate Turner, which also ended Ryn's relationship with Nate. The affair did result, however, in the now-five-year-old Tegan, and Del has called Ryn to ask her to adopt the adorable girl. Ryn agrees, but must face down Del's stepmother, Muriel, to do it. She finds surprising help from new boss Luke Wiseman, who, after meeting her unceremoniously, loves Tegan (and eventually Ryn, too), but the return of Nate, who doesn't know Tegan is his daughter, promises to reopen old wounds. Koomson's U.S. debut is a three-hankie delight. (Mar.)
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JaneB Reviews Category / B+ Reviews / Book Reviewsadoption / infidelity / Interracial / London6 Comments
Dear Ms. Koomson:
This was a book that Karen Scott reviewed a while back on her blog. It was available only for sale in the UK at the time and while Karen’s review was compelling, it wasn’t quite enough to get me to pay for the international shipping. I was really excited to have this book land on my doorstep. It was everything that Karen said it would be. It made me cry and laugh and cry and then laugh through my tears. I adored Kamryn and her insecurities, her guilt, her anger. The reason, though, that this book does not get at A is due to the last third of the story.
Kamryn Martika and Adele Brannon were best friends despite wildly different backgrounds: Kamryn being standard middle class with a loving family and Adele, the poor little rich girl. From the moment that they met, though, Adele and Kamryn found a commonality with each other and forged a bond that seemingly nothing could sunder. Adele and Kam both had issues with the opposite sex. Adele slept around, finding satisfaction with no one. Kam had built up barriers so tall that it would take Superman to overcome them.
Then came Nate. Nate stuck around Kam despite her attempts to shake him off. He saw through her hurtful words and focused on her caring actions. They fell in love and planned to get married. One night before Kam and Adele were alone and slightly tipsy Adele gave away a long held secret. The father to Adele’s young child was Nate.
Kam’s sense of security, of love, of friendship were totally shattered. She cut off Adele, broke up with Nick and never looked back until she was informed that Adele was dying of cancer. Kam finally breaks years of silence and contact and goes to see Adele. Adele is dying and she begs Kam to adopt her daughter. Once Kam finds Tiga in the hands of Adele’s horrible father and step father, Kam realizes she cannot abandon Tiga.
The story is then about Kam’s relationship with Tiga and her unresolved feelings of guilt and anger and love toward Adele and how those emotions affect the relationships and non relationships Kam had all around her. Kam’s relationship with Tiga is a tentative one. She never wanted children and doesn’t know the first thing about being a parent. Further, her job is in flux because her supervisor was sacked and a new one has been brought in. Many people in the office think that Kam was sleeping with her supervisor (she wasn’t) and her new boss, Luke, isn’t going to let her skate by now.
Kam and Luke have a hate – hate relationship. They both actively and really despise each other. Luke thinks that Kam has climbed the ladder on her back. He thinks she is overweight. He thinks she is a crappy parent. Kam thinks that Luke is an ass with a capital A. He really is. The minute that you started softening toward Luke, he would say something totally asinine. But as Kam and Luke and Tiga spend time together, Kam can’t help but realize that Luke is something special and the reverse is true is also true. Kam is like the opposite of Luke’s “type” – white, blonde and lithe. Kam is black and full bodied.
To further complicate the issue, Nate shows up just about the time that Kam and Luke and Tiga are gelling as a family. Nate represents to Kamryn her lost feelings for Adele. She feels that her hold on Tiga might be stronger with Nate. It was so interesting how Nate represented to Kamryn her feelings for Adele, as if she could somehow recapture those lost moments with adele with Nate. So she’s at the precipice. Move forward? Fall backward? And there’s the fact that Kamryn has come to love her madly and if it is between losing Tiga and losing Luke, what choice does she possibly have.
There’s no villians in this story. Not Adele, Not Nick, Not Kamryn. Just people who loved each other and therefore had the greatest ability to hurt the other.
The problems with the book were that I did get a sense of impatience toward then end with Ryn. I felt like she should have realized what her best course was but she didn’t get there fast enough for me. I think not enough time was spent fleshing out the Nate storyline to give me, the reader, the same sense of indecision that Kamryn was displaying. The Nate part of the story dragged a bit at the end, but it was brought to a close with a plausible, realistic happy ending. One other complaint was that Luke, as an American, though, doesn’t work out so well. He uses very English phrases “winding me up.” referring to his mother as “mum” and speaks with several other British idioms. B+
This book is part of Bantam’s Discovery line and is being released in Trade and Mass Market. No ebook format that I could find though.
REVIEW: My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson
Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com→ Jane