I received this book for free from Forever Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Published by Forever on June 11, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: Forever Publishing
Fall in love with this hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy that USA Today bestselling author LJ Shen calls "an absolute treat."
SheReads' "Most Anticipated Romance Books of 2019"
Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen -- especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.
The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.
"Harnessing sass, heartfelt struggle, and unapologetic sexuality, Jimenez's debut is as hysterical as it is tear-jerking....Jimenez manages to fulfill all expectations for a romantic comedy while refusing to sacrifice nuance. Biting wit and laugh-out-loud moments take priority, but the novel remains subtle in its sentimentality and sneaks up on the reader with unanticipated depth." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
When this book was first mentioned at BLC in New Orleans, I was immediately intrigued by it. We’ve all seen the story with the woman who claims to not want kids who meets a man who wants a big family and eventually realizes the error of her ways and is thrilled to spend her epilogue pregnant with quintuplets or something. Frankly, it’s annoying. Some women don’t want kids, full stop. Magical penis isn’t enough to change their minds.
But that’s not what this story was. Kristen Petersen does want children. She really, really does. But she suffers from endometriosis, awful, horrible, agonizing endometriosis, and has made a decision that will render her infertile. She has a boyfriend, Tyler, who doesn’t want kids, so this is fine.
Enter Josh. Josh Copeland. Kristen’s best friend (Sloan), and Josh’s best friend (Brandon), are getting married, and Josh has just moved to their little corner of California, so they’re just meeting for the first time. There’s an immediate attraction, but as Kristen has a boyfriend, it doesn’t matter. Until, of course, it does. Tyler is deployed, and as you may imagine from the fact that this is a romance between Kristen and Josh, they do eventually break up. (To be clear, they break up. Nothing terrible happens to Tyler on his deployment)
The problem is that Josh really, really wants kids. The proverbial baseball team of kids. Kristen mentions the possibility of adoption, and he makes it clear that it’s not an option. He wants kids, all his, produced by his very own super-sperm. None of those weak adopted kids for him. Every time the topic of kids comes up, Josh digs in a little deeper. Tyler doesn’t want kids? He’s not worth dating. His ex-girlfriend Celeste didn’t want kids, so Josh broke up with her, because why waste time with someone when you won’t get kids out of it? Etc.
To be clear, Josh has no idea that he’s digging a hole with Kristen, or how much he’s hurting her, because Kristen won’t tell him about her issues. He realizes that there’s something going on. He spends a lot of time with her, and it’s clear that her periods are long and extremely, extremely painful. But he doesn’t know what’s happening, and he has no idea that Kristen has already scheduled this huge medical procedure.
I didn’t love Josh. I just didn’t see anything special in him. “It’s been my experience that all women, even the ones you’re only having sex with, are on some level exhausting.” This isn’t something Josh says to rile Kristen up or because he’s just trying to be funny. That’s internal dialogue. He’s also obsessed with Kristen because she’s not like other girls. She’s literally The Cool Girl. “What I had sitting next to me was the “cool girl”. The rare woman who was gorgeous without being nuts. The girl in school who hung out with all the guys, but she never dated any of them because none of them was mature enough for her. That girl who had a boyfriend who went to college and picked her up in his car after school. She could beat you at beer pong and had a football team who would kick your ass for saying one wrong word to her, but she’d never let them because she could handle herself.” “She was like a unicorn. A mythical creature. An honest, no-drama woman who didn’t bullshit and drank beer and cussed and didn’t care what people thought about her. She was a unicorn, tucked in the body of an attractive woman with a great ass.”
I did like Kristen. She was refreshing, a woman who had made a really difficult decision, based on her years of experience, and wouldn’t let anyone talk her out of it. She and Sloan had a fairly heated and frank discussion when Kristen finally told her the truth about her decision. (She’d been trying to hold off until after Sloan’s wedding, but eventually decided to tell her). Kristen had given her decision a lot of thought, and was strong. She knew she was right, and wouldn’t let Sloan, her family, Josh, or anyone else talk her out of it. (I was a little irritated during that conversation, though, when Sloan impulsively offered to be a surrogate and Kristen’s thought was that Brandon would never be ok with Sloan carrying another man’s baby. I mean – that’s not really how that works. Technically, I guess it is, but what kind of douchecanoe would actually react that way in this situation? There is enough to consider when making such a decision, but that isn’t one of them. If that is how someone reacts, that person is literal garbage)
I know it sounds like I hated this book; I didn’t. I liked it. I just didn’t love Josh, and I thought Kristen could have done a lot better. (Not Tyler. That guy was awful) The back copy mentions laughing and crying, and I definitely laughed a few times. I would have cried if I were a person and not a robot. Kristen’s surgery and medical issues weren’t the only drama in the book, and it was well-written. I didn’t love how it all wrapped up, but there was an author’s note at the end that made it a little easier to accept. And Josh isn’t a terrible guy, he’s just sort of a generic white dude who thinks the only women worth dating are the ones who AREN’T LIKE OTHER GIRLS. (So basically every generic white dude) I’d read another book by Abby Jimenez in a heartbeat. Not the least because her dog is adorable.