I'm really excited about my new gig as reviewer for The Well-Read Child. This review of M+O 4EVR, by Tonya Cherie Hegamin was posted there today.
Known as “M” and “O” to their families, Opal and Marianne have been best friends as long as they can remember. Their mothers are not the most reliable in the world; Opal’s dad is a long-haul trucker, and Marianne’s dad disappeared before she was born. Opal’s Gran has been the glue in their lives, taking Marianne in when she was a little girl and raising the two girls together. By the time they reach their senior year in high school, Opal is a serious student with college scholarships within her reach; Marianne is on the road to trouble, unhappy and reckless in her yearning to be popular.
This recklessness is depicted beautifully by Hegamin in the first chapter of the book, when Marianne appears drunk, her homecoming queen crown askew, and lures Opal away from her responsibilities to take a wild ride out into the country, where an encounter with a group of football players quickly turns ugly. It’s the last time Opal sees her friend.
Narrated by Opal, M+O 4EVR covers just a few days, but Hegamin so deftly weaves in memories of the girls’ complicated past that at the end the reader fully understands all Opal has lost. My only quibble with the book is the undeveloped suggestion that Opal feels more than friendship for Marianne, which in my view confuses the story of their rich friendship.
The truth is, there aren’t enough good books about friendship, and M+O 4EVR’s insightful look at how childhood friendships evolve as young people enter their teen years was more than enough for me. Any girl who’s been left behind by a best friend will sympathize with Opal and learn something about how to move forward with her life.