Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Books I've Loved: A Sense of the Infinite

After having bemoaned the lack of friendship books here a week or so ago, here is another beautiful book about girls' friendship.  It's a quiet book, or at least, it feels like a quiet book.  Yet there are a lot of things simmering under the surface - eating disorders, teen pregnancy, depression and bullying to name a few.

I read this in a single morning because once I started,  I couldn't stop reading.  Annabeth is an endearing narrator, a girl who has been all too happy to live in her friend Noe's shadow.  She is convinced the two of them will be friends forever.

But this is the year when their differences start to become more apparent.  Annabeth loves the outdoors; Noe prefers to practice gymnastics inside.  Annabeth joins the gym team even though she'd rather be hiking.  And this is just the beginning of those little differences that begin to fray the edges of a friendship.

It all felt so real to me.  By my final year at high school I was outgrowing my friends, and they were outgrowing me. It was painful, but now I recognise it as an important part of growing up.  This book beautifully captures the pain and exhilaration that comes when you break free of a friendship that is suffocating the real you despite the fact it's the friendship that has kept you going through years of shared experiences.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb:

By the author of the critically acclaimed Wild Awake, a beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.

It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.

But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don't involve Annabeth. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

Hilary T. Smith's second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.


  1. A book about friendship sounds great. YA especially is often so focused on romance. It's nice that there's one about friendship and how important that can be.

  2. I agree with JE Oneil. As a former 6th grade teacher, I used to see in my students' journals how much the issue of friendship was a constant focus, and how keenly a dissolving friendship was felt. It's nice that this issue is being addressed in fiction.