The demise of a friendship can be just as traumatic as the end of a romantic relationship. Yet the rules of grieving for a friendship are endlessly more complicated than those for nursing a traditional broken heart. Can a friendship ever be mended once the bonds of trust have been shattered?
That is the central question in Leah Stewart's The Myth of You & Me, and one that protagonist Cameron Wilson answers with a resounding no when she receives a letter from Sonia Gray, the long-lost best friend she has not spoken to in eight years. Sonia is about to get married and attempts to heal their rift with an invitation to her impending nuptials. Cameron declines, unable to overcome what she feels was Sonia's ultimate betrayal nearly a decade before.
But then Oliver, Cameron's elderly boss and confidant, dies and his final plea is that Cameron deliver an already wrapped wedding present from him to Sonia. It hardly seems like the sort of request one can refuse, so Cameron reluctantly sets off.
Her mission turns out to be anything but easy. The uncertainty of the reunion looms in front of her as the ghosts of her past pop up to complicate the trip, and Sonia proves difficult to find. Deftly interspersing memories with the forward trajectory of Cameron's journey, Stewart weaves a tale that could very easily veer into overly sentimental territory, but never does. Instead, what emerges is the touching story of true friendship so intense that, over its duration, it managed to produce both soaring joy and deep heartbreak.
Stewart carefully feeds out just enough of the story at a time to leave readers hungering to know what is inside Oliver's mysterious package and just what it was that broke up the close-as-sisters friendship. In the end, readers will be left with Stewart's graceful teaching of this ultimate truth: you can never leave behind someone who has touched your life so profoundly.
Iris Blasi is a writer in New York City.