Starring my Dead Best Friend
by Emily Horner
Brief Summary: Told in alternating chapters of Now and Then, A Love Story: Starring my Dead Best Friend follows Cass’s journey after the death of her best friend, Julia. This includes a bike trip across the country carrying Julia’s ashes attempting to fulfill their summer plan of going to California (the “Then” portions of the novel) and helping to stage Julia’s top-secret musical, Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad (the “Now” chapters).
Kell’s Chatty Review: It goes without saying that this book is incredibly poignant as it explores life after the death of a friend and the many subtleties of all sorts of relationships. However, I would largely characterize this as a coming of age novel. Julia’s death forces Cass to address many aspects of her life that were previously, not necessarily ignored, but not explored either.
There was a lot of buzz about: this book, but largely it was Julia’s musical, Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad, that made me want to read this one. That might be one of the best musical names I have ever heard of for a musical. And yes, it sounds just as amazing as the title. I would totally go to see it.
Also: I thought Horner did a lovely job of exploring different aspects of sexuality. Particularly, I really liked how Maggie (someone Cass meets on her bike trip) elaborated that just because you weren’t having sex, doesn’t mean there wasn’t love. (Horner explains this better, I promise.)
This is the second: book I’ve read about the aftermath of a friend dying, the first being Hold Still. Really, they are drastically different books. Although both cover journeys for the main character, A Love Story’s method of switching back and forth allowed us to see Cass moving on a bit more than the character in Hold Still. Also, A Love Story really had an ensemble to fall in love with.
Which, having typed that: I did love how A Love Story had many different people come into Cass’ life for just a bit and profoundly influence it. A lovely touch, I thought.
What I most wanted to do after reading this book: Well, I mentioned wanting to see TSNDS. But also, go to California. But no matter how much Cass made it sound cool, I have no interest in riding a bike there.
Where this book came from: the library.