Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy
Published May 1st 2012 by Simon Pulse
Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl’s perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys’ band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free…until it isn’t any more.
When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl…and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char…being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.
I thought this book was super cute! I have this signed paperback copy with a Sad Jackal sticker that I’ve just sort of been looking at and admiring for a
few years a while, and I always kind of walk past my bookshelf and look at it for a bit and debate on reading it but for some reason I never get around to doing so? But today was the day!
Charlotte’s voice was really distinct and strong from the start, but not in a way that was overpowering or off-putting. It was a little fumbly, a little awkward and, I thought, a pretty good match to her stated age. I loved seeing her markedly different relationships with all the boys (though only some, like Fabian and Benji, were entertaining and likeable and will be remembered with fondness, while Oliver was A Big Dumb With Mystery Issues That Were Never Solved and Trip was A Sweet Guy Turned Into A Big Dumb), as well as with the girls from the second band – though I’m a little sad at how that ended up. The story was built up and fleshed out really nicely, and at a good pace, and I thought the lyrics were a really tasteful cherry on the top. My favorite was the Hansel and Gretel crumbs one; I love the idea!
There were only two things (one and a half?) cons that stood out to me. First,-
“But as my long friendship with Oliver – and even Abe – has proven, when you’re friends with a boy and then suddenly you have to talk about dating, it can get strange. Sure, boys want to tell you all about their hookups, until they remember – by some slip in the conversation – that you’re a girl, and then they get weird and uncomfortable. It’s important to stay expression-less when it happens, even though you also have to keep doling out girl-sided advice. Because that’s why they’re telling you. They want to know what it’s like from a girl’s side. But if you ever attempt doing the reverse – talking about your own hookups or crushes – and especially if you even slightly mention any kind of physical whatever, everything shuts down and gets awkward. It’s safer to be completely neutral on the matter. It’s safer if they don’t think you have a vagina at all.”
This little treasure showed up on page 29 and had me do a double take. It made me think of this tweet, and, well. Yikes. Charlotte, in this case it isn’t the “boy” part of “boy friend” that’s the problem – it’s the “friend” part. I think you need to ditch the friend and find a better one.
Also, the other con or half con? part was lines like this: “He is the absolute perfect kind of cute: meaning, cute in a secret way – the way only odd girls like me notice.” Or how she’d go out to eat with the boys and note in a slightly smug tone that “normal girls” picked at their food and were terrified of eating in front of guys, but hey hey hey Charlotte doesn’t caaaaare. It wasn’t enough to put me off – I still thought it was an enjoyable read overall – but there were enough lines for me to start raising my eyebrows at the peeps of her holier-than-thou attitude around girls with well-combed hair and skirts and – god forbid – an interest in dating boys.
But overall, Being Friends With Boys was a fun, cute read. It’s definitely more of a mood book – there are some finnicky parts that might not cater to all reading cravings – but I was in the mood for a light, easy read, and Being Friends With Boys delivered.