When We Were Friends
Elizabeth Joy Arnold
Bantam, Mar 22 2011, $15.00
Lainey and Sydney met as seven years old students in Newport News. They became best friends until high school when Sydney tormented Lainey. Eighteen years later, Lainey an artist and Sydney a saleswoman at Six of Swords Occult shop, meet. Sydney mentions her marriage to David McGrath is over. Lainey wants nothing to do with Sydney.
Over a week later, Lainey finds a bruised Sidney and her baby Jacqueline with her mom. Sydney fears for her baby if David gains custody of her as he burned Jacqueline on the back of her neck. She persuades Lainey to watch Jacqueline as she talks with David. Lainey tells her mom they will keep Jacqueline safe. Lainey is stunned when she sees an Amber Alert on TV with Sydney and David pleading for the return of their baby.
Lainey decides to chance prison to keep the infant safe from her abusive father. They drive to West Virginia where her car breaks down. Alex Connor rescues them. He is heading home to New Hampshire after attending a funeral. Her mom tells her to flee because Sydney was caught by the cops in a damaging lie. Lainey concludes once again Sydney loves herself more than anyone even her daughter.
The cast is fully developed with flawed characters, but though the story line is held together by Lainey, Sydney as the great manipulator owns the plot while the actions of the two former BFFs are over the top of Mt. Washington. A late but expected twist ties the tale together too smoothly in spite of a coda. Readers who ignore plausibility will enjoy this exciting thriller that asks how far you will go for a friend.