Book Review: When We Were Them by Laura Taylor Namey

Posted November 18, 2021 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Review, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Book Review: When We Were Them by Laura Taylor NameyWhen We Were Them by Laura Taylor Namey
Narrator: Gail Shalan
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on November 16, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 10 hrs and 28 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon/Audible
Overal Rating: four-half-stars

When they were fifteen, Willa, Luz, and Britton had a friendship that was everything.
When they were sixteen, they stood by one another no matter what.When they were seventeen, they went through the worst.And when they were eighteen, Willa ruined it all.
Now, the week of graduation, Willa is left with only a memory box filled with symbols of the friendship she has nearly destroyed: A book of pranks. Corsages from a nightmarish homecoming. A greasy pizza menu. Greeting cards with words that mean the world... It’s enough to make Willa wonder how anything could tear her, Luz, and Britton apart. But as Willa revisits the moments when she and her friends leaned on one another, she can’t avoid the moments they leaned so hard, their friendship began to crack.
As Willa tries to find a way back to Luz and Britton, she must confront the why of her betrayal and answer a question she never saw coming: Who is she, without them?

This is a contemporary coming out of age novel. The book is written in first person from Willa’s perspective when she’s seventeen, and it goes over the events in her life in the last couple of years. There are mentions of some key events early on but just to give a more detailed background about her and her family. The book starts by explaining the special friendship Willa had with Luz and Britton, and how suddenly it all changed due to Willa’s fault. The current thread of events alternates with flashbacks to how their lives used to be to prepare the reader for the big reveal of what Willa did wrong.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Fifteen years old seems to be an age far for me but I still remember how strong feelings were back then, and how easy you could to slip into an undesired behavior just because you didn’t know better. The characters in the novel are exceedingly well constructed, and while my teenage years are far behind, I was able to relate to them, their feelings, and the things they were living. They all have their nuances and personality, along with some specific background that made them real. This and the intrigue about what terrible thing Willa could have done to break this special friendship were two factors that kept my interest throughout the book.

The pacing was slow at some points. I didn’t mind, as this is a book to be slowly enjoyed and digested, but it’s true that some of the events could have seemed quite trivial when seen with the eyes of a grown-up. The book evolves toward stronger and life-changing matters, and some parts are really powerful and touching.

I just loved Gail Shalan’s narration and her special sensitivity to transmit the characters’ emotions. She also did a great job in giving each character a particular voice and style. There are three main female characters in the book and they have numerous interactions, which isn’t something easy from a narrator’s perspective, but Shalan was able to make them sound different so that I was able to identify each one of them and follow dialogs easily. I can definitely say that Gail Shalan’s narration makes the book more enjoyable.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Story (Plot)
Overall: four-half-stars