Four Friends by Robyn Carr

Family and friends are such an important part of the holiday season and Four Friends by Robyn Carr is a perfect example of appreciating both. Carr has a way of writing about real people with real lives, and the four women in this book deal with very hard and very real issues. The constant throughout the book is friendship, and the strong bond between the four women sees them through. They may not always agree with each other's decisions, but their support for one another is unwavering and makes them stronger in the end.

Gerri, Andy, and Sonja have a fantastic friendship. They live on the same street in Mill Valley, California and power walk together at 6 am every morning. BJ (short for Barbara Jean) has recently moved to the area with her two small children. She continues to be slightly aloof and runs every morning by herself; no matter how many times the three women try to include her. BJ keeps the women at a distance because she is quietly keeping a big secret she's not ready to share. In the span of a few weeks, the lives of each woman changes forever. Andy throws out her hot-bodied second husband after discovering he is a serial cheater. She finds comfort by opening up to the slightly overweight and balding carpenter who has been remodeling her kitchen, and as weeks goes by she comes to value his steadiness and wisdom over his appearance. Gerri, the one who seems to have everything, is contemplating ending her twenty-five year marriage after discovering her husband had an affair a little over five years ago. He moves out and their family life is in chaos while she is trying to find out what she really wants. Sonja, the most stable of the group, is a health food fanatic who teaches yoga and advises people on the feng shui of their homes, and of their lives. But when her husband walks out on her because he is unable to stomach one more tofu dinner, her carefully constructed world crumbles around her and she descends into severe depression.  Even while keeping her distance, BJ is the first to recognize how seriously depressed Sonja is. She comes out of her shell and joins the group, saving Sonja's life in the process. Of the four women, Sonja has the most remarkable journey back to herself and makes some very important discoveries about her childhood.

This is definitely not a lighthearted chick-lit book. Robyn Carr takes us through the breakups, breakdowns, and the rebuilding of all the women's lives. Each and every one of them had something going on that I could relate to, in my friends lives as well as my own. In the end, the friendship between the women ended up being the glue that got them all through their issues, and I think that was my favorite element of the book. Friends are sometimes closer than family, and watching these four women help each other deal with some major issues made for a terrific read. Life always has ups and downs and I believe it is how we deal with those downs that define our true character.


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