Friendship is like a shark: it has to keep moving forwards to survive.
Esther and Laura have been best friends since they were seven, when Esther was chubby and Laura was already perfect. So much has changed since then – school, boyfriends, drink, experimental hair-dye, university, jobs, London, babies – and their friendship has changed just as much, but they are still close, still inextricably linked to one another.
So when Esther is told that Laura has gone missing, she leaves everything behind – including her husband and small child – to fly to San Francisco and trace her friend’s last movements. All she has is an email from Laura: ‘I’m channelling Drew Barrymore, as ever. The Gospel, right?’ In trying to understand why Laura has disappeared, and what on earth Drew Barrymore has to do with it, Esther needs to look back. Back at the secrets woven into their friendship and the truths she’s avoided facing for so long.
It was the title of this book that drew (geddit) me towards it. I will admit, I didn’t read the blurb or want to read it because of who the author is; admittedly, I have never read a book by Pippa Wright before. This will now change.
The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is a fantastic coming of age story about the lifelong friendship of Esther and Laura. Wright, ever so succinctly, manages to peel the layers of friendship away to reveal the disarming complexities of friendship. One that, quite frankly, was all too relevant to me.
As much as Esther and Laura seem to need and rely on each other they also feed off their independence when away from each other. They don’t hate each other but there is a weird sense of satisfaction when the other person’s life isn’t going according to plan. I think all friendships have and need this diversity.
In Laura, Wright has created a weirdly dislikeable character. Her flaws are highlighted and she comes across as false, using Esther when it suits her; lovely to her when they are alone but using her as a crutch to further herself in front of others. Esther comes across as passive aggressive – clinging to her friendship with Laura when, in reality, they should have outgrown each other years earlier. However, I am a firm believer that soul mates come in the shape of friends and not lovers and that is why their lives are so inextricably linked and that their friendship has endured not only time but distance.
It is refreshing to read a book about the complexities of female friendship and Pippa Wright has done this topic a fantastic service. Read this book!
The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright will be available for purchase from March 26th 2015.
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