SLIDER

'Just say okay.'


When I first started to see The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez popping up on bookstagram, I was curious! I have been loving contemporary romances lately, and this debut was getting rave reviews. Based on the title, I assumed it would be about one person secretly in love with the other and hoping to break out of the friend zone in the process. I was definitely wrong! I expected a light-hearted love story but got so much more.

I started reading it a few weeks ago, after finishing a hefty historical fiction novel. I figured I'd read a few chapters and go to bed. Next thing I knew, I was halfway through the book and trying to force my eyes to stay open long enough to read just one more page. It was the kind of book that I didn't want to put down once I started! The characters stole my heart, and I couldn't wait to see where the story would take them. I was constantly laughing at the sarcasm and sass because Jimenez's dialogue is excellent. But I cried, too – and more than once! I didn't expect the tears, but I loved that the book earned them. The more I read, the more invested I was in all of these characters – their fears and frustrations, their sorrows and joys, their missteps and misunderstandings.

The heroine, Kristen, knew that she probably wouldn't be able to have kids. With severe uterine fibroids, infertility is common. But when the pain of her condition finally takes its toll, she schedules a medical procedure that will help her pain – but make it impossible for her to have children. Planning her best friend's wedding at the same time is bittersweet, but it gets even harder when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. She connects with him so strongly but knows they aren't right for each other. He wants a huge family someday, and Kristen knows that isn't in her future. And the more time they spend together, the harder it is for her to be just his friend.

Part of this story hit close to home, and it's a huge reason I loved it. My story is very different from Kristen's, but I have experienced my own fertility issues. It took me a few years to get pregnant with my son, who is three now. And I always thought we'd have another baby by this point, though it hasn't happened yet. I hesitate to describe my situation as infertility because I know people who've gone through so much more, but I think the waiting and disappointment probably feel similar. I think that's why I connected so much to Kristen's story! I understood her desire to have kids and the way she was trying to make the best of her reality. Our stories aren't the same, but Jimenez beautifully depicted feelings that many will be able to relate to. And that's a sign of excellent writing!

The infertility storyline was refreshing to read. It's sad and heavy, yes, but it's also something I rarely see depicted in books. For that aspect alone, I loved The Friend Zone. But that's not all there is to it! Kristen is such a fun heroine – sarcastic, fiercely loyal to her friends, prone to bouts of hanger, and a secretly struggling to believe in her worth. Her business and her dog, Stuntman Mike, were hilarious. And Josh was such a great match for her! I loved how he supported her and was consistently dependable. Jimenez develops their friendship and growing feelings for one another in such a believable way. I was rooting for them from the moment they met in a fender bender. 

And somehow, Jimenez made something that I'd typically hate totally work! Kristen lies by omission because she won't tell Josh about her medical issues. She won't be with him, but she also won't tell him why. Normally that bother me more, especially when the information has such huge implications, but I understood Kristen's choices. I didn't always like it, but I could see her reasoning. Kristen is so desperate to protect her heart and, honestly, afraid of looking broken in front of the boy she likes. She's also worried that Josh will sacrifice his dream of a big family, and she can't do that to him. It did add some angst, but in a realistic way.

My one reservation about the book is that Kristen has a boyfriend when she meets Josh, and I didn't like that at all. The feelings she begins to develop for Josh strayed into cheating territory for me, even though she wasn't acting on them. I hate to even mention it because I loved everything else about the book, but I do think it's worth noting. It's probably the only thing that kept it from a full five-star rating! It's also a bit steamy, but I just skipped past.

I've also got to add that Kristen's friendship with Sloane was amazing, and I am so glad it was part of the story. I think it's one of my favorite female friendships I've read recently. I came to care so deeply for Sloane and her fiancé, Brandon, and you know it's a good book when you're invested enough to cry over the secondary characters, too. 

I'm so excited that this book is out in the world today – and to see it already getting so much praise! I could just keep going on and on about how delightful this was to read, but I probably need to let you discover some of it for yourself. It was romantic, hilarious, and so emotional. I love this genre, and my favorites will always be the books that bring more than just romance to the table. And The Friend Zone definitely does! I'm so impressed this is Jimenez's debut, and I cannot wait to read more from her in the future.

Release Date: June 11, 2019 | Publisher: Hachette; Forever Romance
Source & Format: Publisher; ARC | Pages: 364 pages

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

1 comment

  1. ALLLLLL THE YES. agree with allllll you said about the friendship with Sloane especially!

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