Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Very Long and Spoiler-y Review of The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Published: June 19th, 2019
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary romance
Tropes: Friends to lovers
My rating: 4.5 stars
Acquired this book: Bought
Warning: This review contains spoilers
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Buy now: Amazon Canada || Amazon US || Indigo

Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone is a contradiction in many ways - light and hilarious but also gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, and as I read, I found it difficult to pin down my own thoughts and feelings about the book. If I was rating it based on my heart, I’d give it five stars. My head would give it four or maybe less. It’s been a long time since I read a book that I simultaneously loved and hated. And even ‘hated’ is maybe too strong a word - it’s more that I got annoyed and frustrated and even fed up at times, but the book was so entertaining, so well written, and had sucked me in so completely that I found it impossible to stop reading.

I knew two spoilers going into this book: I read a few reviews that mentioned the infertility storyline and how it was basically all wrapped up in a neat little bow by the end, which made a lot of people angry. I also skimmed the synopsis of The Happy Ever After Playlist, so I knew Kristen’s best friend’s fiance/Josh’s best friend died. Even though I despise spoilers, I was actually glad I knew about Brandon’s death going in because I think I would have ripped the book to shreds and thrown it out the window. I expect hardships in books - every story needs conflict and struggle - but death, especially one that was so tragic, is not something I'd expect in a book like this. It goes back to what I said about this book being a contradiction - it was mostly a light, funny, sexy story and then BAM, a horrible, heartbreaking death.

Now, the infertility storyline. I appreciated it so much, despite having some issues with how things ultimately played out. Periods are rarely talked about in books, but they’re a fact of life for women, and many women have extremely difficult periods. Kristen had dealt with difficult periods her whole life, and fibroids in her uterus caused her to bleed for weeks at a time, often to the point of anemia. She had killer cramps and her bleeding ranged from spotting to blood bath. It affected every aspect of her life - her mood and energy levels, her sex life, her self-confidence. It was amazing to see all of that on the page. Kristen also had OCD; I admit, I found it strange that it wasn’t revealed until almost the end of the book, although if you know the signs you might have suspected. When she first mentioned her OCD, I thought it was in that cringeworthy flippant way people use it, not an actual diagnosed case of OCD until Josh flat-out asked her.

While I appreciated the infertility storyline, I hated that it became the reason Kristen pushed Josh away. Instead of talking to him about it and being honest with him - which annoyed me in itself because Kristen was always very honest and blunt - she hid it and made the decision for him. I do understand that part came down to her lack of self-worth, but it got to be too much. Josh loved her unconditionally; he saw all her faults and flaws and loved her - not despite them, but because of them. He didn’t want to change her, he didn’t want to tame her, he just wanted HER. The way he took care of her and loved her was a thing of beauty...but the way she often treated him was not. I could understand her waffling to a point, but then we reached that point and it went on for 100+ more pages. The back and forth, her pulling him closer only to push him away, giving him hope and ripping it away - it made me nuts. On the one hand, I loved Josh even more for sticking around, being determined to make things work, and never giving up, but on the other hand, I kept thinking ‘enough is enough’.

I know all of that likely makes it seem like I hated the book more than I loved it, but I really did love the book despite those things. Even though I got annoyed by those things, the fact is, they were realistic. Big life problems aren’t solved quickly or easily. Kristen frustrated the hell out of me at times, but I also really connected with her and appreciated how real she was. Her flaws made her relatable. My heart went out to her because her behaviour stemmed from a lack of self-worth. The way her mother treated her growing up and even as an adult made her think no one would ever truly love her. She thought she wasn’t good enough because her mom made her feel like a screw-up at every turn. Josh saw beyond all that and loved every bit of her, unconditionally and without reserve.

The Friend Zone may have left me with contradictory feelings and thoughts, but ultimately I loved this book. It was a story about friendship, perseverance, self-discovery, and unconditional love. I became really invested in these characters and their story; I laughed, cried, swooned, and basically ran the gamut of emotions throughout. It deals with some difficult, potentially triggering subjects like infertility, death, grief, and OCD, among other things, and I do think it’s important that people are aware of those things, but ultimately this is a beautiful, hopeful story. I have a feeling The Happy Ever After Playlist will leave me a crying mess, but I can’t wait to read Sloan’s story and I hope we see lots more of Josh and Kristen.

Have you read The Friend Zone? What did you think? Are there any books that have left you with contradictory feelings?

*Please note I'm an Amazon affiliate, and some of the links in this review are affiliate links. All income made through affiliate sales goes directly back into maintaining Ramblings of a Daydreamer. Thank you for your support!  

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