The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez follows the story of Kristen Petersen, a no nonsense, no drama, witty entrepreneur. She can be described as the “cool girl;” sarcastic comments, beers over cocktails, burgers over fancy restaurants, who is not afraid to speak her mind. She’s maid of honor to her best friend Sloan, who’s set to marry her firefighter fiance Brandon. Aside from running her small dog apparel and custom doggy stairs business, and being best friends and maid of honor to Sloan, she’s also dealing with lifelong health issues related to her period. She details the intense cramps, extensive bleeding, and other painful symptoms that have ruled her life for as long as she can remember. As a result of this, she’s learning to make peace with the fact that she’ll most likely never be able to have biological children.
Josh Copeland, Brandon’s best friend and best man and fellow firefighter, moves to California to work with Brandon after leaving a dead end long term relationship. He wants a big family and his ex did not want children at all. An issue for Josh as he dreams of having his own big family. Starting fresh in Cali, he’s set to support Brandon on his big day alongside Sloan’s maid of honor. What he didn’t know was that this role belonged to the sassy woman in the truck he had a minor fender bender with. For Josh, it was almost love at first sight. He and Kristen bantered and flirted naturally with each other – the chemistry was undeniable. The problem? Kristen is in a long distance relationship with her Marine boyfriend Tyler who is overseas.
Kristen is expected to move in with Tyler in a few weeks when comes back from his current assignment and she is stressed. She convinces herself that this is the right move – build a future with Tyler, who doesn’t want to have kids, given that she can’t have any. She doesn’t do a great job of convincing herself though. Kristen and Tyler get close when he starts working for her doggy business part time. Their undeniable chemistry is a struggle for both Kristen and Josh, where Kristen is trying very hard to not cheat on Tyler. Regardless, she’s playing with fire and gives in when Tyler leaves her that fateful voicemail. So begins a fiery situationship between Kristen and Josh where Josh is ready to go all in, but Kristen refuses to take things past sex. She knows he wants a big family but she’s unable to give that to him and feels like trying to have some sort of relationship with him is unfair to him.
Common Themes + Opinions:
The overarching theme in this book is Kristen’s infertility issues. She’s been struggling with fibroids and very painful and long periods for most of her life, to the point where her stomach is swollen and makes her appear like she’s three months pregnant. As she plans to go through with a surgical procedure that is going to confirm her inability to have kids, the fact that she can’t have kids looms over her. She struggles to accept this fact, and believes that this makes her less worth of true love. She claims love isn’t practical to sustain a relationship, and aims to work through things rationally and with some sort of logic, hence her essentially settling for Tyler despite actually being reluctant to do it. As she falls for Josh, she gets hot and cold with him as she clearly has feelings for him but refuses to explore them given her condition and his vision for his future. This, coupled with her upbringing makes her question her worth, where she doesn’t feel like its fair for Josh to give up his dreams of a big family just to be with her.
I feel like Kristen’s infertility issues overshadowed her as a character. I get it, this is a very big deal and is very much a part of her, but who is Kristen outside of this and being Sloan’s friend? We only get a small glimpse of her upbringing when her mom comes to visit, where we find out a few more key things about Kristen. Outside of that, she’s just the sassy girl who can’t have kids.
Final Thoughts + Ratings:
Overall, The Friend Zone has its moments and takes a turn for the worst towards the end of the story. I felt like it was unfair that Kristen and Josh had to experience loss in order to be brought together. I struggled to read this one a bit, given that there’s not much character development outside of Kristen’s infertility issues – it hangs over the entire story. I do appreciate the fact that infertility is shown in the book, and in the author’s note, it mentions that this story is loosely based on one of Abby Jimenez’s friends, which is kind of cool.
All in all, I give The Friend Zone 3.5 stars. Have you read The Friend Zone? Let me know your thoughts!