Highlights in the Charts
Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon
Reviewed by Lauren Fardoe
Worst Idea Ever centres around the friendship between Georgia and Lydia. Lydia starts up an online business as an illustrator but then begins to struggle financially and Georgia is desperate to help however she can. Knowing that Lydia wouldn't accept handouts or charity even from a long-term best friend, Georgia masquerades as a stranger behind a newly created Twitter account, calling herself Patricia and offers her friend the support she wishes Lydia would have accepted.
Patricia and Lydia become close and Lydia confides in Patricia, telling her secrets that Georgia doesn't even know as her best friend of over twenty years, and this makes her resentful. Georgia realises Lydia is keeping many things from her and concludes that she may not know Lydia at all. This sours their friendship and platonic love turns into revenge and an unhealthy obsession.
I felt, however, that the supposedly forty-five year-old characters were written to behave more so as immature twenty-somethings who fundamentally lack communication skills between alleged ‘best friends.’ Fallon’s use of the dual narrative technique, only shifting towards the latter half of the novel, is suspenseful yet the overall concept the book is based on falls a little flat and becomes unbelievable at times.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Reviewed by Arabella Petts
Set in a cosy coffee shop in a small back alley in Tokyo, Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a wonderful piece of translated fiction which explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could go back in time?
This café has been brewing coffee for over one hundred years, but their coffee offers a unique experience, the chance to travel back in time. Before the Coffee Gets Cold introduces us to four customers all hoping to make use of the cafe’s time travelling offer: one confronting the lover who left her, one to receive a letter from the husband who is starting to forget, one to see their sister one last time and one meeting the daughter they never got the chance to know.
However, the time-travelling journey doesn’t come without risks. Anyone wishing to take advantage of the unique experience must sit in a certain seat, they cannot leave the café and most importantly, they must drink the entire cup (and return to the present) before the coffee gets cold.
This book brilliantly captures the urgency we can feel to return to a moment from the past, whether to say something that was left unspoken or just to see someone one last time. Through the characters’ travels and exchanges, an emphasis is placed on how difficult it can be to have these conversations, even if we feel like we would do anything to have them.
As a heartwarming piece of fiction, I adored this book and loved how the characters’ emotions were portrayed perfectly, allowing me to relate to the characters and their issues on a personal level.
I do, however, think it may have been a more enjoyable read if there had been more heartbreak and twists throughout, as I felt like the book was perhaps too happy at times, but I loved and appreciated Kawaguchi’s idea of giving his characters a second chance at the happy endings they deserved.
We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz
Reviewed by Robyn Hewson
Every year, best friends Emily and Kristen set off for an annual reunion trip, exploring beautiful places off the beaten track. After a disastrous trip to Colombia leaves the girls shaken, they’re determined to put it behind them and make new memories with a trip around Chile. But when tragedy strikes on their holiday once again, Emily begins to doubt if it’s a coincidence. As they return to normal life, Emily desperately tries to create some space between the two. But every time she tries to distance herself, Kristen finds a way to pull them even closer.
A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, this addictive thriller explores the intense relationship between two best friends and the blurred line between love and obsession, asking the reader to consider how far they would go to protect those they love.
Reminiscent of Gothic novels but with a modern twist, this unsettling story is underpinned by a growing sense of dread as Emily gets closer to the truth. As she delves deeper into Kristen’s childhood, she uncovers shocking secrets that make her question everything she knows about her best friend. And when Kristen senses Emily’s suspicion, she fights back, collecting evidence to prove Emily is just as much to blame for the tragic events as she is.
With a mix of picturesque locations and deadly twists, it’s easy to see why the film adaption of We Were Never Here has already been acquired by Netflix. Bartz’s story of toxic friendship and fatal obsession will have you hooked, but it might make you think twice before booking your next trip.