Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.
Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.. – Goodreads
There were various reasons I was drawn to this book. Mostly the Wisconsin accent. I can’t help myself. This first page immerses you in Wisconsin culture from the way they dress (Green Bay Packers! The mom sweaters!) to the way they talk with the “dontcha know.” While the “dontcha know” at first seem a little much, even to me, someone from there, it does fit. Here’s a hint: my lovely mother watches Fargo without hearing the accents. The accents that even people from Fargo hear!! Hale “got” the little intricacies of small town Wisconsin.
Back to the book, what do you do when your best friend dies? Your best friend who is the light of the town no less. This is what Kippy begins to deal with. Kippy lives in Friendship, Wisconsin, small town midwest, everyone knows everyone, you wear green and gold not because you care about football, but because it is in your blood. Kippy is a good girl, she really is, so when her BFFs mother asks her to read a journal and censor out the “bad” (sex) parts she is more than happy to, even if she isn’t ready to deal with Ruth’s death herself.
This of course changes the course of Kippy’s life. Kippy learns many things about her BFF, number one: she annoyed her to no end. Then she goes to the funeral where everyone in Friendship (all 688) appear to have shown up and everyone is giving their apologies to her. Not only do they not know her name, they are Ruth’s fake friends, she’s uncomfortable and wants to go home. It gives her flashbacks to when her mother died. But she can’t go home, Ruth’s mom asked her to give a speech and oh does she. It’s awkward and painful to read, well done Hale, I cringed. Multiple times.
Here’s the thing about this book: people will love it or people will hate it. I feel rare in the fact I gave it three stars. It’s very polarizing in the fact it is very Fargo-esque. Fargo by itself is polarizing. Very rarely do people go “oh yes. Fargo. It’s okay.” Mostly people “OMG I LOVE IT” or “OMG I LOATHE IT” That’s how this book is to me. I did give it three stars however for reasons:
- How Kippy treated PTSD. I understand that 17 year olds in middle America are often flippant about things like this, but it was still hard to read.
- Same goes for lesbianism
- Kippy making light of everything: including Domestic Violence. Something that is never funny.
I would have been happy and content to rate this book higher if it didn’t include those few things that broke my heart. I am excited to see more from Hale though. Her writing had me turning every page wanting more.