Rachel is always the good girl--good grades, good attitude, always a champion for everyone else, and basically has never thought she was truly good enough because her supposed best friend (which, to be frank, was only her best friend because they grew up together) was always outshining her in looks, attention, comebacks and anything else social skills focused. Although Rachel did get better grades and have a better work ethic, these supposed "boring" traits are what make her so likable and of course reliable.
Another tactic that Giffin used to pull readers in immediately is by dropping a huge bomb in chapter one. She starts by creating sympathy with readers: "I was in the fifth grade the first time I thought about turning thirty." Talk about instant connection! All women I know whether they like to admit it verbally or not have trepidation about the big 3-0. For this main character to have been struggling with this number since five years old makes me feel for her since I didn't start hyperventilating about thirty until I turned 25. So now that we already like Rachel for admitting her fear of aging, Giffin drops the aforementioned bomb in the last sentence of chapter one: "And then, somehow, I am having sex with my best friend's fiancé." WHAT?! The nice girl? The girl everyone counts on? The pale, soft, average looking underdog and sidekick?! How can you not want to read the whole book in one sitting to find out what happens?
Even though this book falls under the genre of romantic comedy, the real theme is friendship. I am a sucker for any book or movie that attempts to dissect the relationships we create as humans--their complexity, the confusion they cause, the motives, and really, what makes a good relationship. For Rachel and Darcy, they were friends by geography, and they just assumed they should remain friends when the truth is, Rachel had outgrown Darcy, and they both had friends in their lives that they had made since childhood that were much better suited to their personalities. Although the scandalous story obviously is the eye-catching part of the book, this focus on friendship encourages audiences to really look at who they have let into their lives (for more commentary on this topic, check out this former post).
I sort of wish Darcy wasn't made into a major villain at the end of the book because I had already forgiven Rachel and Dex for their behavior by then (guess I will just have to read Something Blue to hear Darcy's side of the story!), but I did enjoy the book from start to finish and felt like it was definitely an intellectual step up from some of the fluffy "chicklit" that's out there because Giffin is an excellent writer whose smoothness, timing, and plot/character development are truly impressive. I am so glad to have discovered her, and I am thrilled to have four more books on my immediate "to read" list (the mentioned Something Blue and The Heart of the Matter, Babyproof, and Love the One Your With). I hope you pick up one of these this summer (start with Something Borrowed and you'll want to read the other four too!).