Eighteen-year-old Beth arrives in Manhattan in June 1983 with high expectations. An investigative article for her school’s newspaper secured her a prestigious internship at a newspaper and promises to become the summer of her life. However, her welcome is rather unspectacular, the apartment she shares is shabby and she feels like an outsider. At her workplace, too, she soon feels like a stranger, her three fellow interns seem to be much more knowledgeable and move around like fish in the water. She immediately befriends Edie, an outgoing young woman of New York’s high society. Hard work, a completely new life – Beth is overwhelmed by her new life, too overwhelmed to notice that not all is what it seems and therefore, she has to learn the hard way, that New York is a shark’s pond.
Meg Rosoff has created another young adult novel that also attracts adult readers like me. “Friends Like These” tackles not only Beth’s coming-of-age but also friendship at workplaces, the precarious situation of interns and still after so many decades, women’s place when it comes to careers – it does not make much difference that the novel is set four decades in the past.
Beth is the typical bumpkin, she is inexperienced, insecure and does not know how to behave in these unknown surroundings with all the cool people. Edie quickly becomes her mentor and introduces her to the habits and lifestyles of the Big Apple. The difference between the two girls could hardly be greater, but soon, Beth comes to understand that not all is gold that glitters and that what she envies is not what it seems at first.
I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, funny as well as reflective it opens a whirling world that makes you question what you really want in life. A novel of first which can be exciting and hurting at the same time.