(Actual rating: 4.5 stars)
My Best Friend, the Atlantic Ocean, and Other Great Bodies Standing Between Me and My Life with Giulio is a much-needed reminder that a book doesn’t have to be serious, overly dramatic, or dripping with angst to leave a lasting impression. Harrington’s novel is light-hearted, hilarious, and easy to read, and I absolutely loved it. I can’t think of a single thing I’d change about this book, and I have a feeling that the good mood it put me in will easily carry me through the rest of the week.
The premise of My Best Friend… is pretty simple. Delia, a ditzy high school student, has the hots for her BFF’s boyfriend Giulio. She doesn’t try to seduce him away from her BFF, just does whatever she can to put herself in Giulio’s path so that when he and the BFF eventually break up – it’s inevitable, you know – Giulio will move on to her.
Plotting to snatch up your best friend’s man may sound pretty low, but in Delia’s case this behavior is more humorous than reprehensible. Delia’s not manipulative or bitchy, just clueless. She truly believes that her best friend and Giulio are destined to break up within approximately 34 days of beginning their relationship (a statistic she read online somewhere), and she wants to be ready to step in as Giulio’s new girlfriend as soon as possible. The entire book hinges on the schemes Delia comes up with to get closer to Giulio, and the results are hilarious, as she’s not particularly gifted in the field of boyfriend thievery.
My Best Friend… is narrated in the form of a journal for Delia’s English class. I’m usually wary of books written in this format, but in this case it’s quite effective. The journal allows Delia’s unique voice, which is the source of most of the humor in the book, to come through loud and clear.
When I started reading, I was initially alarmed by how much of an airhead Delia is. There are times when she seems to be completely oblivious about pretty much everything. Roman numerals, vending machines, sarcasm, basic vocabulary – you name it, she’s clueless about it. I was mildly put off by this at first, but after a while the humor that results from her obtuseness made me laugh loud enough, and often enough, that the ditziness became a strength of the book rather than a weakness.
The fact that Delia is tremendously likable also helps make up for her lack of, shall we say, book smarts. Delia has a big heart and makes friends with just about everyone she meets, getting close to people that most other popular girls wouldn’t look twice at. She comes across as a very sweet person. Even when she’s doing something that’s generally considered despicable, such as plotting to steal her best friend’s boyfriend or suckering a guy who has a crush on her into doing her homework, she does it with such genuine naïveté that you find yourself unable to fault her for it.
Delia’s quest for winning Giulio’s heart, combined with her total lack of common sense – she’s like a teenaged Amelia Bedelia, I swear – gets her into some pretty hilarious situations. She ends up managing the high school football team, becoming vice president of a gender neutral club, and joining an alliance of costume-wearing X-men enthusiasts. If that’s not enough to pique your interest in this book, I don’t know what is.
Overall, I can’t say enough good things about My Best Friend, The Atlantic Ocean, and Other Great Bodies Standing Between Me and My Life with Giulio. It is an absolute delight to read, and I love that it didn’t leave me heart-broken and exhausted from sobbing like many other books I’ve given 4.5 stars.