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Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

Contemporary fiction

Rich and Pretty

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Rumaan Alam, on your first book!

by Rumaan Alam

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Quick Take

My favorite kind of book: the story of a female friendship, which means, of course, that it is a love story.

Why I love it

Rich and Pretty is one of my favorite kinds of books: the story of a female friendship, which means, of course, that it is a love story. Friends are our first loves— the first time we get to say to another person, "I choose you." The first time we feel ourselves chosen. It's such a rush, that recognition, the thrill of a kindred spirit. No wonder our early friendships imprint so strongly: the blurred boundaries, the shared history, the intimacy and neediness that can be both intoxicating and stifling. But, oh, the burden of choice! Because what to do when lives start to diverge and it might be time to unchoose?

Sarah and Lauren, the main characters in this book, have been friends since they were teens. In their early thirties now, they are both convinced the other is navigating adulthood in New York City in all the wrong ways and, as a result, their friendship has suffered. "Like sisters!" everyone has said of these two, except they're not like sisters in one critical way. Unlike sisters, they can choose to uncouple without having to worry about the inevitable holiday gatherings or family command performances. They can continue to neglect their friendship until it's a husk of its former self, or until they drift so far apart they are no longer in each other's sights. Will they? Won't they?

What makes this book such a great read is how Rumaan Alam excavates the interior lives of these women with wit and compassion and an extraordinary eye for the defining details of their individual—and shared—worlds. Not to mention his downright uncanny ear for how friends communicate: what's spoken versus what's implied, the comforting shorthand, the facile barb, the easy affection.

I have exactly zero science to back this up, but I believe-anecdotally and in my gut-that women spend more time pining over (and Googling and Facebook stalking) ex-friends than ex-lovers. (Just me?) It's painful to lose people, but sometimes it's more painful to hold on. That Rich and Pretty addresses the struggles of friendship and adulthood in such a winning way makes this debut novel one of my favorite books of the year so far, and I can't wait to see what Alam does next.

Contemporary fiction
The Last Love Note
Anita de Monte Laughs Last
The Leftover Woman
Interesting Facts about Space
Bye, Baby
Swan Song
How to Read a Book
The Connellys of County Down
Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life
A Summer Affair
Adelaide
The Collected Regrets of Clover
Evil Eye
Maame
Advika and the Hollywood Wives
Once There Were Wolves
We Are the Brennans
Olga Dies Dreaming
If Only I Could Tell You
How Lucky
My Dark Vanessa
Nine Perfect Strangers
Honey Girl
One Italian Summer
Eight Hundred Grapes
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes
The Five-Star Weekend
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
The Nest
Rich and Pretty
Britt-Marie Was Here
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Startup
The Identicals
The Dinner List
Goodbye, Paris
Winter in Paradise
A Woman Is No Man
Queenie
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Beyond the Point
What Happens in Paradise
Nothing to See Here
When We Were Vikings
Anxious People
A Good Neighborhood
Big Summer
The Last Story of Mina Lee
Troubles in Paradise
White Ivy
This Close to Okay
The Removed
The Kindest Lie
Good Company
Impostor Syndrome
The Other Black Girl
Apples Never Fall
A Quiet Life
We Are the Light
The Fortunes of Jaded Women
When We Were Bright and Beautiful
The Hotel Nantucket
Contemporary fiction
View all
The Last Love Note
Anita de Monte Laughs Last
The Leftover Woman
Interesting Facts about Space
Bye, Baby
Swan Song
How to Read a Book
The Connellys of County Down
Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life
A Summer Affair
Adelaide
The Collected Regrets of Clover
Evil Eye
Maame
Advika and the Hollywood Wives
Once There Were Wolves
We Are the Brennans
Olga Dies Dreaming
If Only I Could Tell You
How Lucky
My Dark Vanessa
Nine Perfect Strangers
Honey Girl
One Italian Summer
Eight Hundred Grapes
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes
The Five-Star Weekend
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
The Nest
Rich and Pretty
Britt-Marie Was Here
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Startup
The Identicals
The Dinner List
Goodbye, Paris
Winter in Paradise
A Woman Is No Man
Queenie
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Beyond the Point
What Happens in Paradise
Nothing to See Here
When We Were Vikings
Anxious People
A Good Neighborhood
Big Summer
The Last Story of Mina Lee
Troubles in Paradise
White Ivy
This Close to Okay
The Removed
The Kindest Lie
Good Company
Impostor Syndrome
The Other Black Girl
Apples Never Fall
A Quiet Life
We Are the Light
The Fortunes of Jaded Women
When We Were Bright and Beautiful
The Hotel Nantucket