Hen Birnbaum is having a bad day. His way too cool for him girlfriend Petra Dostoevsky just dumped him AND kicked him out of her band, his parents are over compensating on the life advice because his sister disappeared a year ago and no one will tell him the where or the why (for his own good!), and now his sister reappears and expects him to just wait until she feels like letting him know what’s up. The only thing keeping him sane are the distractions he makes for himself and his best friend Emma, but before the summer is over he’ll realize the distractions really are his life and Emma may be more than a friend.
I’ll admit that I picked this book up because I saw the title as a challenge. Friend totally is a verb! When I started reading I found out that despite it’s clearly wrong title this is a very good read. It stands out from the many other slice-of-life-coming-of-age novels by virtue of great and seriously witty characters. Ehrenhart keeps the cast relatively small except for the occasional walk on here or there, so he can focus on keeping his characters distinct and memorable. He has a real flair for it too. Pretty much everyone Hen runs into is a New York stereotype of one type or the other, but fresh writing keep them feeling like cardboard clichés. Hen, himself is very likeable with a nice self deprecating humor and a million pop cultural references that amuse without seeming forced. The plot moves along well, but I found the ending to be a little anti climatic and neat. However, even with some small flaws the book is still a huge win. If you want something not too heavy with extra clever writing, check it out.