Author: Hilary Weisman Graham[website]
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Reviewed by: Andi & Michelle
3 Ex-Best Friends
Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.
Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.
But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.
Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show.
Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van known as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there.
But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?
Michelle: Road trip!!!!
Let me kick it off by saying this was one of the more realistic road trip books out there. Not a lot of kitchy tourist stops or Americana to be had like some others in the genre. I enjoyed that it was more of a right of passage and a bonding experience. That the three (completely opposite) girls who drifted from BFFs to strangers came back together for a post-graduation last hurray felt real to me. Not only that but the circumstances that brought them all to this place and time made perfect sense.
Andi: That’s a very good point. There was no stopping at the world’s biggest ball of twine, or seeing a massive ball of lint or some dead celeb’s grave stones. It was basically a story about three girls figuring out who they are and where they belong while holding on to something from their past, something that was completely pure and innocent before adolescence screwed everything up. But I have to admit I couldn’t shake the comparison to that Britney Spears’ movie Crossroads.
M: Totally! Thankfully there wasn’t that really annoying Britney Spears character though. Speaking of which who was your favorite? I found Alice to be just a tad bit too annoying. Her desperation for the threesome to reconnect and for the trip to go smoothly was just slightly overbearing. I get it, I do, and it wasn’t completely off-putting. Her behavior did fit her personality in that anal retentive and needy way but it still felt way too desperate given the amount of time the girls had been separated from their childhood friendship.
In looking at the three I would say that Tiernan was my absolute fav. Her attitude had me laughing and rooting for her. The underlying vulnerability gave her that rootability that I enjoy in a character.
A: Tiernan was my favorite too. She was the one with spunk and had a spark about her that made her likable. Alice I didn’t find believable at all and Summer just seemed to vapid for me. And I hated that she kept talking to that jerk of a boyfriend. She wasn’t a strong girl at all. Now Tiernan, she was the one that stood up for herself and she had the best attitude. And some of her one liners were priceless. You could tell she acted “cool” and that being there didn’t mean anything to her, but I think it meant the most to her by far.
M: That’s interesting because even though I wasn’t a huge Summer fan either I do think she was the character that developed most throughout the story. She went from being the whiney popular girl who thought the other two were beneath her to being someone who was finally able to put herself on the same level as her peers. In doing so she also got a backbone and gave the loser boyfriend the boot.
Alice being the doormat seemed to stay pretty stationary throughout the story. She had her moment of strength at the end but even that felt slightly weak to me. Like she was being forced into it so that she could have her “moment” of change like Summer and Tiernan did.
A: Yeah, Alice didn’t grow or do anything as a character for me at all. To me she was the girl that would raise her hand at the end of class when the teacher asked if anyone had questions and would say they needed homework. She was too much of a goody goody and I felt she judged her friends and never once loosened up and enjoyed herself with them. Actually to be honest she really got on my nerves and had to have been the most annoying teenager ever!
M: HA! Didn’t you just loathe those nerds?! So, the roadtrip…
First, I’ll say that it made me think of you a little bit because the boy band was reminiscent of NKOTB and I know how you love you some of the boys! The fact that they were road tripping to catch their farewell concert was inspired. As reasons go this one was a good choice. It, as we’ve mentioned, was a trip that was filled with pretty realistic events. They met some quirky people, made some romantic connections, and ultimately found parts of themselves that they’d been long denying. All without visiting the world’s largest ball of twine.
What I *really* appreciated was the fact that Tiernan’s mom showed up. That even though her daughter left on the trip without telling her she didn’t just wave it off and leave fixing their problems for when she got home. She chased her down and gave her crap. I liked that a lot.
A: Me love NKOTB? What gave you that idea?! Could it be the four concerts I’ve gone to recently, the Danny Wood pin in my office or the New Kids hoodie I’m rocking in my Twitter profile pic?! HA
But seriously I totally agree with you. The reason for the road trip was so cute and innocent. It was something you don’t usually see in books. It kept the trip kind of cool and fun without it being a cliche mess of a road trip.
And I agree about Tiernan’s mom. In most books the parents just don’t seem to care about their children and they just let them runamuck, but I loved that Tiernan’s mom physically went after her and talked to her. Do I think it is believable that she would just be okay with the road trip after one chat with her daughter, not really, but it was a nice change of pace for her to go after her.
What did bother me though was the band part at the end. That was just way too out there for it really even happen! The chances of that are so slim that it took away some of the believability that had been building.
M: Yea the believability scale of that ending was way more than I would expect not just the contest but the very end where it got wrapped up with a little bow. That would NEVER happen.
Having said that I did enjoy this book. It was a nice piece of fun and and certainly a quick entertaining read. Definitely one to pick up after reading something more intense or dark.
OMG! I must get this! It brings back all my BLOCKHEAD memories. Friends I was once so tight with had been long gone after high school, college, family, life. Then the Reunion tour brought them all back along with all the fun, crazy, and screaming like a little girl. Thank you for sharing. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it. Thanks, ladies!