Abby Jimenez’s debut novel, The Friend Zone, is a funny, poignant, romantic story that offers captivating and overwrought emotional complexity. I am excited to add it to And She Writes’ Top Shelf collection as I think our community will enjoy the strong writing and vibrant characters Jimenez introduces to us from the first pages of the book.
The story has alternating viewpoints between characters Kristen Peterson and Josh Copeland. Kristen and Josh initially meet after a small fender bender. Although the chemistry is undeniable at their first meeting, they quickly move on with life. However, they find themselves together again -- it turns out their best friends, Sloan and Brandon, are getting married! She is the maid-of-honor and he's the best man.
New to the Los Angeles area, Josh is a former marine turned firefighter from South Dakota. He’s funny, patient and persistent to match Kristen’s sarcastic, stubborn and witty ways. Kristen, a successful small business owner, has carefully planned the next months and years of her life before meeting Josh.
Jimenez takes us on an emotional journey with Josh and Kristen. Through Kristen’s breakup with long-time boyfriend, Tyler, and a complicated relationship with her mother, we learn of her strength and independence. She’s practical and stoic when life throws her blow after blow. Her biggest setback is a medical condition requiring surgery that will leave her with the inability to carry and birth children.
As Kristen and Josh’s friendship blossoms, Kristen carefully compartmentalizes her feelings for Josh. At first he is only a friend. As their affection and love for one another grows and their relationship becomes intimate, Kristen makes it very clear (from the beginning) that there is no future for them, but does not offer him the true reason as to why.
Her infertility is deeply personal -- she tells her best friend, Sloan, about it just weeks before the scheduled surgery -- and it has affected her romantic relationships past and present. Unbeknownst to Josh, the youngest of seven children, he openly shares with Kristen his desire to have a large family of his own one day. In their own ways, they struggle with the terms of their relationship agreement. Josh's persistence for something more than friendship is met with Kristen's stubbornness.
Jimenez’s writing had me laughing, crying and asking myself important questions about life, love, death and family. Through brilliant dialogue, well-developed characters and the ability to write carefully about an array of life-shattering medical conditions, the audience can appreciate the intricacies of this story.
I also recommend Jimenez's second book, Happy Ever After Playlist, whose main character is Sloan, Kristen's best friend. Jimenez's third book, Life's Too Short, is set to publish in April 2021. It features cameos from Kristen and Josh as well other other characters from The Friend Zone and Happy Ever After Playlist. I can't wait to read it!
I highly recommend The Friend Zone and I'd love to know your thoughts if you've already read it. You can post on our social media or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more book reviews, subscribe to our blog!
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