Book: The Best Of Us by Sarah Pekkanen, Simon & Schuster Audio, April 9, 2013
Book Info: Fiction, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 11 hrs, 11 mins. Read by: Cassandra Campbell. Also available in PB, 352 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Best Of Us is the first novel I’ve read by Sarah Pekkanen. I’ve heard her name mentioned before though, and the relaxed island vibe of the cover got my attention. In The Best Of Us, a group of old college friends go to Jamaica together with their spouses to celebrate their wealthy friend’s 35th birthday. The friends have kids, marital problems and other secrets that they are eager to leave behind for a while to have fun. With a hurricane approaching, tensions run high on the island as all the issues bubble to the surface.
The Best Of Us follows four women on this trip to Jamaica. Tina is an overworked wife and mom. Her four kids are tiring her out, and she and her husband Gio are struggling to make ends meet. Tina’s BFF Allie is married to Ryan, and is hiding a secret about her health. Their friend Savannah reminded me of a Samantha/Sex & the City type. She loves to flirt and party, but her marriage is unraveling due to her husband’s infidelity. Pauline is the woman who organized the Jamaica trip as a gift to her husband Dwight. She is cool, calm and collected on the outside but she’s harboring a secret that’s tearing her apart.
I love the idea of an all-expense paid luxury group trip to Jamaica- so that part of the book was pure escapism. I’m sure many of us dream of leaving our home, work and family responsibilities behind for some R&R on the beach. But a lot of the book is also about the friends dealing with their real-life problems, which is more reality than I usually look for in my reading. I could probably relate to Tina the most – being dragged down by cooking, cleaning, etc. and wanting to have more time to herself and her husband. So, some of the real life stuff wasn’t really the escapist sort of read I usually gravitate to. But, I did like when the perfect vacation started to fall apart as the friends stopped being polite and started facing up to their issues. The friendships rang true, and sometimes you loved them and felt protective and sometimes you wanted nothing to do with them.
Veteran narrator Cassandra Campbell reads the audiobook. Campbell is one of the readers of the multi-voiced audiobook The Help, and many other audiobooks. Campbell is a good fit for this story, she sounds age-appropriate, and makes each character come alive. She sounds cool and detached for Pauline, and suggestive for Savannah. I had no trouble keeping track of each woman’s story, due in part to the narration. Campbell gets into character and takes her time with the pacing, matching the relaxed tone of the island. She also ramps up the tension when needed. It’s an audiobook I thought about when I wasn’t listening to it, eager to get back to the story.
The Best Of Us is a juicy read that’s perfect for a day at the beach. It’s easy to get lost in the drama of The Best of Us maybe you’ll come out of it a little wiser just like the friends in the book.