That is My Best Friend's Exorcism
in a nutshell. It's the 1980s. Abigail Rivers at turning 10 in 1982
become friends with the slightly odd Gretchen Lang who is the only
person to attend her birthday party.. Both slightly nerdy and very
intelligent, they bond together as best friends, helping each other get
through those awkward years as teenagers. But it starts to fall apart
after a night of experimentation with LSD in the late 80s. Gretchen
begin to act strange, sometimes acting terrified and other times being
cruel. She plays mean tricks on her friends often setting up Abby as the
scapegoat. Abby know there is something very wrong with Gretchen but no
one believes her. Until she meets a bodybuilding evangelist who is
willing to believe that Gretchen is possessed.
alternately snarky and scary novel is drenched in the 80s. There are
lots of references to the era and the more you are familiar with the
times, the more you will feel at home with our two teen protagonists.
However the bond between Abby and Gretchen even at its most tenuous
times is what most readers will connect to. It takes a long time in the
novel for the exorcism topic to take center stage. For the longer part
of the tale, Abby simply does not understand what is going on with her
friend and when she tries to tell others about what is happening, she is
the one that becomes the pariah. It is this threat to their friendship
and the challenge it entails where the real meat of the story is.
when the signs of possession happen, they happen with a bang. While
much of the novel seems mild and sweet, those sudden shocks brings us
back. Either Gretchen is a incredibly viscous and evil person or she is
truly possessed. The scenes of possession and the eventual exorcism are
quite explicit, especially for a book that veers on Young Adult.
is a fine line the novel follows between light and dark. However there
are points in which the authors stretches for credibility. While the
teens are believable most of the adults, especially hte parents, are too
stereotypical in character or just too callous in their reactions.
Despite a crackerjack climax, things fall together a bit too quickly and
easily when the fireworks are over. And as mentioned before, I was
never really sure if this was meant to be YA or adult. The song titles
for chapters is cute but adds very little to the mix except to become
annoying. Some of the scenes seem too intense for teenagers and some
others seems too youth focused for adults. Yet it is the way the author
portrays the friendship between the two teens that keeps the book
centered. Over all , it is a very different coming-of-age epic that will
appeal to young adult and older adults alike.