Romanul reda o poveste frumoasa de prietenie ce se transforma in iubirea vietii celor doua personaje principale, Payton si Kendall. Autoarea scrie la persoana intai din prisma ambelor personaje, ceea ce mie mi s-a parut putin greoi de citit, chiar daca cred ca s-a dorit o intelegere mai buna a caracterelor si a evolutei personajelor pe parcursul naratiunii. Este scrisa intr-o engleza „usoara”, parca extrasa din tipologia comediilor romantice gen „Friends”. Personajele sunt tinere, adolescente ce sunt la rascrucea celor 18-19 ani exact in momentele cruciale ale deciziilor ce le vor construi calea vietii.
Kendall si Payton sunt prietene din copilarie, colege de liceu, care acum isi incep un nou drum in viata profesionala, Kendall este o actrita in devenire, „almost famous”, care si-a indeplinit partial visele oricarei adolescente americane de a ajunge la Hollywood, deocamdata a jucat in filme mediocre si lumea Hollywoodului i se pare interesata doar de aspectul exterior al persoanelor , fara valori si principii morale, mai putin de talentul ei sau de ceea ce considera ea important sa aiba persoanele din anturajul ei. Peyton a fost mereu ceea care ii amintea de valori morale, de sinceritate si integritate, mereu aducand-o cu picioarele pe pamant.
Peyton locuieste cu mama ei, ar vrea o cariera in muzica, care momentan nu stie cum sa o inceapa si de aceea inca locuieste in orasul natal. Ea o iubeste pe Kendall de cand se stie sau de cand isi poate aduce aminte, insa stie ca iubirea ei nu va avea corespondent. Aici se inseala amandoua si asa incepe aventura romanului, si anume, in momentul in care Peyton ii marturiseste lui Kendall orientarea ei sexuala, mereu i-au placut fetele si a fost atrasa de ele, dar nu i-a mentionat ca este indragostita pana peste urechi de ea.
„ I guess once you acknowledge the fact that you’ve got it bad for your best friend, there isn’t a damn thing you can do to make it all okay again. Dear God, if you’re listening, please strike me down right this moment. It’s easy to avoid awkwardness when you’re in a coma or dead.
„Damn it! These feelings for Kendall are fully freaking me out. They were never part of my consciousness before, but the more I think about it, the more I’m sure they have always existed—resting dormant just beneath the surface of perceptibility. Now that they’ve broken through whatever barrier kept them locked away, I’ve become so harshly aware of them that it’s physically painful. It’s like I’m treading on jagged glass, and I can’t deal with it. All it takes is one minor slip up, one wrong footfall, and I’ll be shredded into tiny pieces.””
Lucrurile avanseaza, Kendall va filma un nou film si este mereu plecata, se vad rar, dar acum o priveste altfel pe Payton, dincolo de prietenie, dar inca nu poate descifra ce este in sufletul ei. Peyton ii marturiseste si mamai ei adevarul, si spre surprinderea ei, mama stia, doar astepta ca fiica sa i se confeseze. Kendall face o gafa si le marturiseste parintilor ei ca Peyton e gay la un dineu in familie cu ea prezenta.
„Kendall’s head is nuzzled into the spot where my shoulder and collarbone meet. Her arm is slung across my stomach—which, of course, is exposed because I don’t own a single shirt long enough to resist creeping up my torso as I toss and turn in the night. It’s a hairline past 6:30 in the morning, and I’m already freaking out. That must be one for the record books.
I draw in a series of quick, short breaths—preparing myself to move as lightly and slowly as possible. It’s like that coyote ugly thing, except the girl I’m trying not to disturb is absurdly gorgeous, and we most definitely did not do anything sexual the night before. Or any night ever.
As I attempt to slide off the bed, Kendall slightly stirs, but does not wake. She makes a minor adjustment to the placement of her arm and instantly goes from lazily hugging my side to fully holding me. There is a difference between the two. It’s a discreet longing—an added bit of effort—that turns a hug into a hold. I’m as sure as I’ve ever been of anything that I am being held right now. Without warning, I feel a hot, wet tear roll down my face. It splashes onto my t-shirt. I want this moment to last forever. I know it’s the only one of its kind I’ll ever have with Kendall”
Sunt multe momente amuzante, dar cele cu adevarat hotaratoare vin prea repede fara a fi creata premiza aparitiei lor.
„The real problem is that she’s my best friend. We have an undeniable connection that’s more intense than 10,000 Kelvin heat, more dynamic than seismic activity. It’s like there’s gravity between us—she’s the only thing anchoring me to the world, keeping me from floating off into the upper stratosphere and getting lost in space. I can’t risk losing her. I would be an empty shell of a person if she weren’t in my life.”
„Payton is quiet and much too far away from me. I want her right here—in my face and in my arms. Leaving her has always been the hardest part for me, long before I became aware of exactly how much she means to me. There’s sadness in her eyes whenever I have to go, like she’s convinced it’s the last time she’ll ever see me. This time around, the sadness is killing me”
Cel mai important moment , poate punctul culminant, este cel in care Kendall ii propune lui Peyton sa urmeze cursurile unei facultati de muzica foarte cunoscute de la Hollywood si ii face cadou un studio muzical si ii propune sa se mute cu ea ca sa ii fie profesoara de pian pentru a o ajuta la noul ei film, in cadrul caruia interpreteaza un star rock. Payton isi vede visurile devenite realitate facute chiar de prietena ei cea mai buna si de iubirea ei deocamdata secreta.
Odata plecate si mutate, Kendall isi continua cariera, iar lui Peyton o intreaga lume i se aseaza la picioare, cunoaste multe vedete si multi oameni din anturajul lui Kendall, inclusiv pe Lauren care este bi si este incantata de Payton, chiar ajung sa si gradual ele ies la intalniri romantice. In aceste momente, Kendall pune la indoiala ce simte pentru Peyton si gelozia prinde radacini din teama de a nu o pierde. Kendall il are ca si partener pe Gunner, care in ochii lumii este vazut ca si iubitul ei, viitorul partener de film, treaba aranjata de managerii celor doi. Dar Kendall nu e atrasa de el si incet, incet realizeaza ca e atrasa de Payton si dincolo de prietenia lor, mai este un sentiment care incet realizeaza ca este iubire.
„Looking at myself in the rearview mirror, all I can think of is how downright ridiculous this whole situation has become. It isn’t just about Payton anymore, is it? Beyond her, it’s about an absolute reclassification of my sexuality. And I am not gay. I’m just… not. How can I be? I’ve dated more guys than I can count on two hands and ten toes. Lesbians don’t date men, and I do. End of story. So what if the physical attraction I’ve felt for the dudes I’ve dated thus far has been lackluster, lukewarm at best? Maybe they’ve all been too pretty to incite any kind of serious desire in me. Maybe I need a cowboy—some ruggedly handsome, Stetson-wearing, scruffy-faced macho man. Or maybe you’ve only dated pretty boys with soft, feminine features because you’re genuinely attracted to um, females”
Momentul in care Kendall ii marturiseste lui Peyton ca este atrasa de ea, in timpul unei cearte, vine brusc si pe neasteptate, iar Peyton, fara ezitare ii spune si ea ca asteapta demult cuvintele acestea si ii marturiseste iubirea. Urmeaza momente si saptamani minunate de iubire si fericire, pana ce sunt fotografiate de un paparazzo si apar sarutandu-se pe prima pagina a unui ziar de scandal. Kendall e inspaimantata ca acest fapt ii va afecta cariera si ii este groaza de reactia mamei ei, si dupa o discutie cu mamagerul, se hotaraste ca ea si Peyton sa stea despartite o vreme, pana se linistesc apele, iar acel moment e descris ca un moment de ratacire. Peyton se muta la Lauren si urmeaza zile, saptamani de tristete si suferinte de ambele parti, punctul culminant fiind decernarea premiilor Elite Awards pentru actori in devenire, iar Kendall e nominalizata, Peyton vine cu Lauren, cele doua in sfarsit vorbesc si deznodamantul se iveste in momentul in care Kendall castiga, iar in discursul de inmanare al premiului marturiseste lumii intregi ca o iubeste pe Payton. Viata lor devine un vis implinit pentru amandoua si familiile lor sunt fericite si impacate vazandu-si fetele fericite si implinite.
„ I’ll tell you exactly what was up with that!” I realize how unfair it is to be yelling at her, yet I’m powerless to stop myself from doing it. I’m so wound up that every last sensible part of me has shut down. There’s not an ounce of stability left in me. “I’m pissed, Payton! Pissed at myself because I’m a stupid, gutless coward! I couldn’t just tell you how I was feeling. I couldn’t tell you that I think I want to be more than just your friend, and that it scares the shit out of me! It doesn’t matter now. It’s too late! You’re sleeping with Lauren, and–”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” she yells over me. “I tried to sleep with Lauren! Oh my god, did I try! I was this close, and then I started crying! Do you have any idea how embarrassing it was for me, curled up in a half-naked ball at the edge of my bed telling a girl I really liked all about how I couldn’t be withher because my heart belongs to you? It does, you know! My heart has belonged to you for as long as I can remember! Jesus Christ, Kendall! I’ve been killing myself since I was twelve, trying not to notice it was there, trying to make it go away!”
She’s been feeling this for years? Years! I am such an idiot! “I’m glad it never went away,” I mumble. Here she is, chilling in the middle of the living room, staring at me with her big honey-colored eyes. She is so lovely. I can’t…
I rush at her, slamming her back against the kitchen wall. I run my fingers through her velvety tresses and kiss her hard. She kisses me back—tentatively at first, but soon I feel her tongue dance across my lips, begging for entrance to my mouth. Immediately, I realize how different it is, kissing a woman as opposed to kissing a man. It’s inquisitive rather than demanding, pleasurable rather than acceptable, more delicate, yet so much more tantalizing.”
Este un roman al devenirii profesionale si personale al ambelor personaje, doar ca drumul lgbt este mereu plin de piedici, mai ales ale societatii, dar care sunt depasite prin prietenie, iubire si devenirea de sine.
„“How does it feel to be an Elite Awards Nominee?”
Terrifying like my blockades have been overrun and I can no longer hope to avoid being conquered. “It’s an incredibly humbling honor.””
„ I want to kiss you until the sun collides with the earth and chars us both into dunes of ash”
„And then, like an idiot, I start to cry. “I don’t hold Payton’s hand when we’re walking down the street. She isn’t the person by my side on the red carpet. We hardly ever leave the house because I know we’d be hounded by the media, and I don’t want to lie about who she is and what she means to me, but I’m scared to tell the truth! I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. I feel guilty because I’m not being honest and ashamed because I don’t think I can be honest! The whole planet wants me to be someone I’m not. Some days I feel like I’d rather rip my own heart out with a pair of pliers than live up to these stupid standards.””
„“Decision! Lifestyle!” she shouts. “Like I had a choice! Do you really think I woke up one day and said to myself ‘I’d like my life to be more difficult than necessary, how can I make that happen? I know! I’ll become a lesbian! That’s sure to complicate the hell out of everything!’ That’s not what happened, Mom! I didn’t decide to be gay. It’s the luck of the draw, okay? I was dealt these cards, so I’m gonna have to play my hand.”
“I don’t accept that, Kendall!” Mrs. Bettencourt fires back. “There is always a choice. Unfortunately, I can’t make your choices for you, because legallyyou are an adult. I can tell you if it were up to me, this thing between you and Payton would not be happening. You claim it has nothing to do with her, but it clearly has everything to do with her! She’s a bad influence on you! You were normal before you found out she was that way.””
„Being conscious only means that I play that night on repeat in my head: the sparsely lit alley, Kendall kissing me as if it were the end of the world. I wish that it actually had been the end of the world. I haven’t just lost the person I love, I’ve lost my best friend.”
„All this recognition from my peers, the adoration of millions of strangers—it means a lot to me, but not as much as Payton does. I can’t believe I’m doing this to her. I can’t believe I’m doing this to myself. I mean, honestly! I love her more than I ever thought I was capable of loving anyone. Maybe I can survive without her, but I can’t live without her.””
“Put her above everything else, above your fear, above whatever judgments anyone may pass. You’re the first person to tell someone to go to hell when you need to, so go on—be the Kendall Bettencourt I know and flip a great big middle finger at any haters who slither out of the woodwork. Be you, be in love, be happy. I was wrong to insinuate that you ever should’ve done otherwise.”