Best friends. BFFs. Soul twinsies. Whatever you want to call them, Harper and Lily were born to be besties. With high school just around the corner, casual-cool Cali girl Harper and awkward, always-costumed Lily make sure to text each other every day about their bond:
Harper: I love you so much that I am going to sneak out of detention to pay that guy from Craigslist $100 to cut off all your hair for my secret collection.
Lily: I love you so much I’m going destroy everyone in your life that matters and force you to depend and love only me.
Harper: That sounds beautiful. I love you.
Not even the threat of different high schools could throw this BFFship off-course, even if Lily begs her parents not to send her to the “dreaded Pathways,” a special school for creative types, while effortlessly-popular Harper attends Beverly High with the rest of their class.
But in a city where fitting in means standing out and there’s nothing more uncool than being cool, it’s the naturally charismatic Harper–with her blond hair and perfect bone structure–who finds herself fighting the tide of American Apparel’d teens who rule the school. Meanwhile, it’s the perpetually “gawkward” Lily–who accessories every ensemble with a pair of tattered fairy wings–who finds herself flying alongside the queen bees of Pathways. Can BFF-ship survive the tidal wave of HS drama, or does growing up mean leaving some friends behind?
I really wanted to love A Tale of Two Besties. In theory, it’s a good idea but unfortunately, it was not quite my cup of tea. I felt like Harper and Lily were too young and immature to be going into high school and struggled with their young sounding voices. At the same time, there were moments when things they said or thought were way too old for a 9th grader (saying a girl hung on to a guy like a “slutty poncho,” for example). The nicknames they used for each other—PuppyGirl and Gawkward Fairy—might work as instant message names but there’s no way those would ever be used in real life.
On the same note, this is supposed to be telling a story of two girls struggling to start high school, learning how to keep their friendship intact despite the separation, and find themselves, but I kept getting stuck on the superficiality and how unrealistic it was. Sometimes it almost felt like a parody instead of a YA novel: there was an Artisanal Pickling club, Philosophy of You class, and Lily mentioned she was doing “decoupage [on] a conch shell for my project on Lord of the Flies instead of writing a final paper.” So many of the students at both schools felt like clichés, not like people that really exist. It was just too much of a stretch for it to be realistic.
There were moments when I wasn’t sure whose point of view I was supposed to be in and it felt like whiplash since the narrator changed each chapter. There weren’t distinct differences between the two voices and I kept getting Harper and Lily confused.
On the bright side, I do think A Tale of Two Besties has a good message it’s trying to tell. The last few chapters that really emphasized the message of being yourself, owning up to mistakes, and moving on were the parts I enjoyed the most. Lily and Harper were the most real and relatable as they were resolving their conflicts.
A Tale of Two Besties might appeal to those on the very young side of YA but the writing was too young and superficial for my taste. I’d consider reading something else by Sophia Rossi in the future because there were some well-written and vivid descriptions but only if it has the potential to be more mature than A Tale of Two Besties.
Thank you to Razorbill & Penguin Random House for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.