Kamryn Matika’s life is in shambles. Two years after she discovered her (former) best friend, Adele, had slept with her (former) fiancé, Nate, she has finally begun to accept what life dealt her and move forward. That all comes screeching to a halt when Adele manages to contact her, despite Kamryn’s attempts to cut off all communication. Adele is in the hospital dying and needs someone to care for her child, Tigan – Nate’s daughter, now five years old. As Kamryn comes to grips with this request and is reunited with Tigan, whom she always adored but could no longer bear to be around once the truth was revealed, her life begins to spiral out of control.
It doesn’t help that Kamryn’s beloved boss is retiring and that she was overlooked to replace him. If that’s not bad enough, it’s clear that her new boss, Luke, despises her for no reason – though she suspects it might have something to do with the way she looks. Add to that the fact that Nate seems to be interested in contacting her again (though he has no idea that Tigan is his daughter) and also, if Kamryn agrees to take on Tigan, there is a good chance she will not be allowed to legally adopt her because of race – a black woman adopting a Caucasian girl is difficult at best. As Kamryn plunges headfirst into chaos, she is surprised to discover the depths of her love for Tigan, as well as her capacity for forgiveness.
My Best Friend's Girl is an extremely interesting novel that deals with several serious issues. Physical abuse is discussed in the novel, although it isn’t really explored as a topic.
However, race does play a major role in the book. Because Kamryn is black and Tigan is white, the adoption process is best with difficult issues and hurdles. The social aspect of race tensions also infuses the narrative. In one situation, someone assumes that she is the “help” rather than Tigan’s guardian simply because of her race. At one point, someone comes just short of accusing her of kidnapping because the sight of a black mother and Caucasian daughter is so incongruous. It is an interesting but subtle exploration into race relations and underlying assumptions. It would have been interesting if Koomson could have explored these areas further, but it might have taken away from the storyline she is trying to present.
Most impressive is how the narrative ropes the reader in - this is one of those books that you stay up late in the night to read because not knowing the outcome before sleep is unbearable. Koomson keeps the reader guessing, making sure that the plot outcome isn’t blindingly obvious. In books like this, the plots are usually predictable, though enjoyable. Koomson surprises from the first few chapters. The twists and turns she takes, as well as what becomes the major conflict of the story, is unexpected and elicits the joy being surprised.
I would recommend My Best Friend's Girl to any fans of chick lit and women’s fiction, as well as those who enjoy stories about best friends. It is solid and very enjoyable. I look forward to the U.S. release of her novel Marshmallows for Breakfast in early 2009.