Who’s your best friend? Is she the same one from fourth grade? Is she your sister? Your cousin? Do you have two best friends? Perhaps you have a best friend for all the different phases of your life? Or are you more of an acquaintance kind of girl? In honor of friends everywhere, I’m giving away a copy of We Hope You Like This Song: An Overly Honest Story About Friendship, Death, and Mix Tapes by Bree Housley You can read an excerpt below and watch the book trailer (Kleenex alert).
All you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment here or on our Facebook wall telling us all why you love your best friend. I’ll start: my best friend accepts me despite my many shortcomings as a friend. I love that every conversation with her feels like we’re starting in the middle, never at the beginning. The winner will be chosen at random on January 7.
We Hope You Like This Song: An Overly Honest Story About Friendship, Death, and Mix Tapes
Prologue: When Bree Met Shelly
“Laverne Shirley. Carrie Miranda. Hillary Whitney CC Bloom. Goose Maverick? You bet your ass. Whether they’re sipping martinis or flying motherfreakingjets,these pop culture pairs have effectively proven to the American public that soulmates are not just for the marrying kind. These characters demonstrate the caliber of friendship that every non-murdering human being yearns to find. As much as I adore these fictitious duos, I’m here to tell you it can happen in real life. The Cagney to my Lacey wasn’t a made-up character from TV or film. Her name was Shelly Warner, and we’re proof that BFFs really do exist.
Shelly and I met in the pocket-size town of Walcott, Iowa, before we understood the importance of showers, clean teeth, and well, personal hygiene in general. (Ironically, this tiny town is also the World’s Largest Truckstop. Need a T-shirt featuring a wolf or a woodland creature? Ring me.)
I cherish the day “the new girl” fluttered into Miss Seagull’s homeroom class. It was in the fourth grade, that special time in life when the only thing that truly matters is friends—and maybe math. When Shelly’s bright blue eyes locked with my timid brown eyes, an odd version of love at first sight occurred. She was the popular blonde and super cool. I was the mangy brunette and super lame. She had a dazzling ponytail and perfectly tightrolled jeans. I had a dazzling mullet and badly hemmed culottes. (It wasn’t the average business up front, party in the back mullet, either. Nope, thanks to the bang perm kickin’ it up front, this mullet partied all the time.) I’ll never know what possessed a lovely social butterfly like Shelly to befriend a skittish moth like me. She had the world at her fingertipseveryone loved her. My fingertips were usually covered in Doritos cheese dustno one really even knew I existed. I’m just glad she picked me as her favorite.
We spent our elementary school years doing kid stuff, like playing Barbies and freebasing Fun Dip. Her popularity grew by the day. She was already going with a boy by the end of fourth grade. I just had a secret crush. (And a massive boner for Chad Allen of Our House fame.)
Junior High was a different animal. We were exposed to a new species of girl. This species wore name brand fashions. (Hello, Jordache. Pleasure to meet you, LA G.) There was suddenly pressure to be cool and say things like “bitchin!”Once again, Shelly’s friend count multiplied like wet gremlins. Once again, she situated me on a pedestal above every one of them.
Our friendship carried on that way throughout high school. Her clump of friends grew bigger and bigger. My clump remained a clump. I didn’t need a lot of friends; I had her. She had the energy of a wildebeest on Red Bull. Her laugh was loud enough to wake a town of bears in December. And only those of canine descent rivaled her loyalty. No one had a friendship as bulletproof as ours. (Evidence: Remember those pathetic couples that had senior class pictures taken together? Yep, we did that. I was the boy. She’s perched all ladylike on a rock and I’m standing creepily behind her, in a jean dress. Not okay.) Shelly brought me out of my shell by placing me at the center of her world.
We coached each other through boyfriends and breakups. We dried each other’s tears of rejection. We made each other laugh in ways no one else understood. We worked together as Subway Sandwich Artists. We played together in the school marching band. And finally, against the advice of many, we chose to be roommates when we went off to college at Iowa State. You know the rule: Never room with your best friend in college or you will end up bloodied and alone. Well, not only were we both still alive at the end of college, we were devastated when it was time to split up for the first time in eleven years.
I got an internship in Fort Lauderdale, which turned into grad school in Miami and then a job in Chicago. She got a teaching job in Iowa Falls where she met her future husband, Brad. Being so far away from each other was difficult, but phone calls were like Elmer’s glue for our friendship: elicious and necessary. We called each other good things, bad things, funny things, and “hey, remember that?” things. It always seemed as if no time had passed. But then one day, I got a different kind of phone call regarding Shellythe kind that should only exist in nightmares.
I had stood next to her on her wedding day in September of 2004, but just less than half a year later, in January of 2005, I was standing by her again at her hospital bed as she died. A common pregnancy condition called reeclampsia was the villain. Just as instantly as we were brought together, we were tragically torn apart by her sudden death. The same day I said goodbye to Shelly, I said hello to her newborn baby, Hailey.
So yeah, my best friend is dead. But that’s not exactly what this story is about. You’ve already seen thatt’s called Beaches. This book is about the beautiful chaos my friendship with Shelly inspired, both while she was alive and while not.”