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Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam
Contemporary fiction

Rich and Pretty


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

by Rumaan Alam

Excellent choice

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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.

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Member ratings (867)

  • Alexandra S.

    New York, NY

    An easy read about the reality of friendship as you get older. Alam points out through the relationship of his two main characters that friendship naturally unfolds as you get older and find yourself

  • Erin V.

    Yorba Linda, CA

    I think many women can relate to the kind of friendship between Sarah and Lauren - lives that are too different, but having an innate knowledge of a person from a young age that pulls them back again.

  • Alisa H.

    New holland , PA

    This reminds me of my bestie,Lauren, and I who live two completely different lives but still can be best friends and enjoy each other’s company. Friendship is a sisterhood and bond that you share.

  • Ansley W.

    Washington, DC

    When I began this book, I had no idea that I would be captivated the way I was. It happened slowly, but before I realized it I was unable to do much else besides follow the story of friendship.

  • Isabelle A.

    Lake Forest, CA

    Childhood friends are always treasured, but growing apart happens all the time. She's your best friend, you'll wonder about her decisions, but in the end you'll stand by her no matter what.

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