8Books Review: “Rich and Pretty” by Rumaan Alam


Rich and Pretty is not your average book about friendship, where everything is great, your friends can do no wrong, and everyone is beautiful. Ok, everyone is beautiful, at least it seems. But still, this is a book that offers a complicated look at a close friendship, between mostly best friends. Mostly because Sarah and Lauren met at age 11 and are now in their thirties, alternately casting backwards and forwards in their lives.

It is delightful in capturing those we hold on to, even as we change and our lives change. Set in contemporary New York, the novel occasionally jumps back to the moments when their friendship was closer, things they shared that are remarkable. They no longer share everything, sometimes their friendship feels burdensome. Less, but still meaningful.

In outlining the complexities of such relationships, Rich and Pretty is altogether familiar, sometimes uncomfortably so. Compellingly written, it draws us through a range of human emotion and interaction–from a moment in an early chapter where Lauren imagines how a relationship with the new office temp might play out, whirlwind of thought punctuated with commas, never periods, that plays out across pages, to later capturing those long-held secrets kept from best friends that sometimes make it out into the open and sometimes never do.

It is the kind of thing you want to read on the beach–a novel of a long-time friendship with all its ensuing tumult, nostalgia, resentment, and love. Not entirely happy, yet complex in a fulfilling way. I, on the other hand, read it predominantly on the subway, careful not to get too enraptured as to miss my stop.

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About Lily

East Coast Chinese American. I like thick-skinned dumplings and hard-covered books.
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