Thanks to Partners NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the digital ARC of Sarah Goodman Confino’s For the Love of Friends in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published on August 1, 2021.
For the Love of Friends is the story of Lily Weiss, a thirty-two-year-old woman who is unmarried, working a steady but unfulfilling job, and (apparently) destined to live the bridesmaid life. Her three best friends, from different parts of her life, are all getting married and, in the ultimate indignity, so are her two younger siblings. Lily loves all of these people, so of course she agrees.
But she doesn’t quite account for all of the negatives of being a bridesmaid once, let alone five times. Her every physical flaw (including her weight, her height, her bra size, and even her hair curl and color!) is perpetually on display and up for commentary as she tries on dress after dress. Her finances, while solid, don’t account for the destination weddings—and bridal showers!—that some of her wealthier friends expect. And she’s lonely. As she watches those she loves most start new lives, she feels left behind.
So, she makes a decision and begins a blog, Bridesmania, to let out all of her ire and heartache. She vents about the money she has to spend. She rages about her friends’ unreasonable expectations. She overshares about her sister being spoiled and too young for marriage. But she’s doing it anonymously, so it’s okay, right?
Of course, I knew from the beginning that the blog wouldn’t stay anonymous, so though there’s a lot of humor in this book—the parts of weddings that can be bad in the moment are almost always funny in hindsight—I also felt a sense of dread, waiting for everyone (including Lily’s grandma) to read exactly what she had written about them, which is often scathing to the extreme.
There is a romantic element to the book, too, as Lily befriends a groomsman in one friend’s weddings and begins to have stronger feelings for him. But since the novel began with Lily waking from a one-night stand with a groomsman (though she’s not sure which one . . . it’s a long story), she feels unable to search for love herself even while she’s supporting all of her friends’ happily ever afters.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While there are some predictable elements, Sarah Goodman Confino does a great job shading those moments, adding depth and letting me as a reader feel Lily’s outrage and hurt and shame. I also liked Lily so much: she’s definitely a flawed character who makes some (REALLY!) bad decisions, but she’s also someone who is constantly striving to do better, someone who admits her mistakes, reflects, and seeks improvement. This is Confino’s debut novel, so I’ll be looking for more from this author.
I'm Jen Moyers, co-host of the Unabridged Podcast and an English teacher.