Author: Sarah Pekkanen
The Best of Us is the latest release of Sarah Pekkanen, internationally bestselling author of The Opposite of Me, Skipping A Beat and These Girls.
Pekkanen draws together four college friends for a week long reunion in Jamaica, all expenses paid in a luxury villa, to celebrate Dwight’s 35th birthday. The trip is organised by Dwight’s wife, Pauline, to give him a fabulous and memorable birthday. She has invited the three closest of his college friends and their partners for a perfectly planned week of rest, relaxation and reminiscence.
Tina and Gio have been together since college and are now raising four beautiful children but feeling the pressures that come along with it. There never seems to be enough time in the day for Tina to get caught up and Gio is trying to be the best provider he can, which means working long hours but still not feeling certain of the security of his position because other good workers have lost their jobs recently.
Allie and Ryan seem to have the perfect relationship, they don’t argue and they both have that peacekeeper attitude that often comes in handy to diffuse situations. Their children are now both at school so things are pretty even keeled for them at home. Allie has always been the one to take care of those around her, people who need a friendly ear often gravitate to her, and now that she’s had some news that could change her life forever it’s time Allie put herself first for a change.
Savannah arrives in Jamaica without her estranged husband, and without telling her friends that they’re estranged. Savannah hasn’t wanted the sympathy while she’s trying to find her feet and regain her confidence. She knows she’s looking good but that doesn’t alter the insecurity.
Pauline is a virtual stranger to the entire group having not met Dwight until after college, but she saw the joy it brought to Dwight to be included in a group when he attended Allie’s 35th so she wants to give him that again for his birthday. She is very much the one on the outside as the others share a lot of history, even though Ryan and Allie didn’t get together until after college their history is much longer than Pauline and Dwight’s.
A week away from the ‘real world’ is like a gift from above for the trio of college girlfriends, an escape from the worries of their everyday lives, and who wouldn’t revel in that luxury. Pauline has planned every aspect and has every eventuality covered – except maybe the effects of way too many cocktails and a powerful hurricane.
Put any group of people in a house for a week and the cracks in their relationships are going to show, dynamics are going to change and people are going to learn a lot about themselves. Especially when these are predominantly friendships forged a lifetime ago in college and nurtured through the years but never in close proximity.
The main focus of The Best of Us is the women, all of whom are very strong in their own way but they are also completely realistic and relatable though not always very admirable. Tina is the harried housewife whose days revolve around the children with little to no adult stimulation where the tiny tot tornadoes set down right where you finished picking up and it often feels like you’re doing it alone because hubby is out earning the income and needs his time to unwind when he gets home. Every mother can relate to this on some level. Savannah needs some validation that she’s still go it after the separation from her husbands but that’s hard to get in a group of married couples who seem to have it all. Allie needs her tables turned and for someone to look after her for a change yet Ryan hasn’t even noticed that there’s something up so who can she rely on? And Pauline, the newest addition to the group, so totally focused on being the perfect hostess that her feelings are often secondary, even to herself.
We become acquainted with the male players in the story but not as deeply as their female partners, and usually only in relation to their partners.
I enjoyed the story, it was quite a light read and it had me involved very early on. I couldn’t really warm to Pauline, she seemed quite wooden but I think that was very much more about who she was than how she was written. She was always so composed and so in control that she never allowed herself to relax or to feel and I think it was this distinct lack of feeling that saw me fail to feel for her.
There were some beautiful feel good moments and I think all of the characters walked away from Jamaica very much changed, cleansed and with a new perspective which is always a heartwarming way to end a story. The dynamics in friendships and relationships shifted and there is much within these pages to help us see our way to changing our own perspectives. But one belief I hold that has been strengthened by this novel….. Tequila is evil.
Beautiful setting, luxury living and a fabulous way to escape for a while this summer. Thanks for another enjoyable read Sarah Pekkanen, I look forward to the next.