Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, LGBT, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: The Mutual Friend by Carter Bays

“Being staunch anything is pretty much interchangeable with being an asshole.”

It’s the summer of 2015 and Alice Quick needs to start living up to her potential. She’s publicly announced on Facebook that she’s going to be a doctor, so now she actually has to do it. She’s 28 years old, grieving her mother, barely scraping by as a nanny and now kicked out of her apartment. She has to get her shit together and make a plan to study for the MCAT but in this age of social media and online dating, everything is a distraction.

Her millionaire brother is having a religious awakening. Her sister-in-law has just been diagnosed with Crohn’s and is struggling with all that comes with it. Her new roommate is cosplaying still being in her 20s and loves chaos. Bays writes about one summer in New York encompassing so many different cities and characters tied together by threads unseen.

This book is about 500 pages and if I had gone to Goodreads before picking it up, I don’t think I would have read it. It’s currently 3.85 stars on there and a lot of people report being confused and not “getting” it. I would have missed out on a great book if I hadn’t just picked it up and started reading. I did not realise this book was long until I went to rate it on Goodreads and saw the page count. It read so fast and the pace never slowed for one second.

The first thing you should know about this book: it has a weird narration technique. The narration in the book is choppy and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Bays goes from one character to another without explicitly stating whose point of view we are now hearing from and just expects you to figure it out. If you usually do your books on audio, I don’t know how this one would work, so maybe stick to the pages with this one. After a while, I got so used to it that I stopped noticing it. It was fun for me because I never got the chance to get bored with one character’s story. It made the pace of the book feel so fast and non stop. That said, stick with it. The threads holding all the characters together will be revealed at the end. Even the little things that seem to be just anecdotes from the characters all help to connect everybody in the end.

If you liked How I Met Your Mother, you’re going to like this book. If you think the journey of a story is what makes the ending worth it, then this book is for you. Bays takes such a circuitous path in telling you how to get from point A to point B. Unlike How I Met Your Mother though, this ending is actually super worth it. It fills you with so much warmth that you didn’t expect. I find that a lot of literary writers write about the internet, social media and online dating with such a judgmental, get off your phones tone but there is none of that here. Bays chronicles how we live our lives on and off social media without injecting his personal beliefs into the narrative. The facts are the facts. He’s not trying to get you to do anything other than listen to his story and pay attention to these characters he has created.

I finished this book at 11pm at night and I had to absolutely tweet about it. I mentioned on Twitter that this is a book that is not for everybody but it was definitely for me. It’s like Bays combined everything I love in a book and put it into this one. After I read the end, I was filled with such regret about it ending. I don’t usually re-read books but I think I’m going to re-read this one now that I know all the threads of the story and see if there are any easter eggs I missed. I think you should give this one a chance and stick to it even if you don’t quite get it, I say give it 100 pages and if it’s not for you then it’s not for you. But if it is for you, come talk to me on IG or twitter about it. I gave this one 5 stars on Goodreads and I know it’s going to make my top 5 of the year.

Have you heard of this one? Will you consider picking it up? Let me know in the comments.

Leggy

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