Author: Paige Harbison
Category/Genre: YA/NA, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
See it at Goodreads
Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.
Natalie and Brooke have had each other's backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie—the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.
Then it happens—one crazy night that Natalie can't remember and Brooke's boyfriend, Aiden, can't forget. Suddenly there's a question mark in Natalie and Brooke's friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.
This is not my first foray into Paige Harbison’s work. One of my very favorite books ever is a modern re-telling of the classic, Rebecca, by this eccentric and well-written author called New Girl. I’ve noticed through various reviews that her work seems to be a hit-or-miss with most people, but I certainly found her a big hit after now reading two books.
Anything To Have You was a bit of an up and down read for me though compared to the last Harbison book I’d read. Although still a compulsive read, I found it often anger-inducing toward various characters. But maybe this is what makes it the controversial piece it was intended to be, and the realistic contemporary it is.
I once liked a friend’s boyfriend (with no action taken towards those feelings). And in another separate situation, a different friend dated one of my ex-boyfriends (that I’d had a pretty long-term serious relationship with and despite the “ex” part, I still felt angry over the situation for a period of time). Ever been in a situation like either of these? This is the basic general idea of Anything To Have You. That particular boundary between friends and their romantic relationships. I thought at times it portrayed it perfectly; others maybe not so much.
Natalie and Brooke are an odd pair to be friends--complete opposites. But really, sometimes opposites attract. My BFF and I are completely opposite and have been friends for nearly twenty years now. But even we still have our common grounds. And I just didn’t see at least one thing in common between these two here. This didn’t really affect my overall enjoyment of the book, and I did enjoy reading, so don’t get me wrong when I start get into some of these (quite) picky areas ahead.
Let’s face it: We were all teenagers once. Some readers that pick up this title still may be in their teen years or just barely be leaving them behind. Harbison again delivers an excellent and realistic approach to a mostly normal teenage lifestyle/experience, depending on their circumstances. She presents her characters as being not-so social with the parental figures most of the time, sometimes even focusing on spats about college discussions/grades/important future decisions, and spending more time with friends. She shows the teens drinking/various drug use and experimenting, sex, ideas of relationships, thoughts on love, etc., but all with a different perspective from varying characters depending on personality and/or circumstance. Natalie, for example, is not usually so much the social butterfly amongst her friends or the “drinker/partying” type, and has a beautiful relationship with her single father that I rather adored. Brooke is borderline needing to enter rehab and has a destructive relationship with her married parents that I found bratty and annoying. Like I said, BFFs but complete opposites. Haha.
However, the author completed her purpose of showing a realistic cast of characters I found to be memorable… even easily relatable to at times.
My annoyances found their way into the building of the story. And as much as I’d like to really get into a lot of them, I can’t get too detailed without spoiling anything. I can say a little something about a particular thing because it’s part of the synopsis. There’s a party, and as usual someone gets so drunk they have what have come to understand as “black-out sex” and then supposedly don’t remember the next day. This kind of plot device has always been a huge issue for me because I genuinely don’t find it to be realistic enough, no matter how drunk, unless someone is found out to be drugged. And in the beginning, I almost thought that was where the story was going to go. I felt sorry for said character for some time--thinking “this must’ve been what’d happened and ohmygod how is she going to find out and when” only to find out that, no, it was just that same ol’ kinda device I’ve read before. I also really dislike the excuse of “we were drunk and one thing led to another” anyway when it comes to cheating, so maybe the whole idea of the romance in general just irked me. I totally got it, I did, but I couldn’t be into the ship here as much as I’d wanted to be--despite that it was cute at times and maybe it was rightfully so even in some ways.
The quirks may have been bothersome during its moments, but not enough to ruin it. In fact, I’m happy to say it’s one of the few reads that’s successfully passed through my horrendous reading slump lately so that says something at least! :)
And I do know that no matter what, I’ll always pick up a book with Harbison’s name on the cover. Because at least when I open the pages of her books, I’ll meet characters that are realistic and relatable, and a story that is irresistible and poignant.