Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison
Published: 1 February 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Pages: 304 (ebook)
Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher for review
Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.
Natalie and Brooke have had each other's backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie—the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.
Then it happens—one crazy night that Natalie can't remember and Brooke's boyfriend, Aiden, can't forget. Suddenly there's a question mark in Natalie and Brooke's friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.
Anything to Have You is, quite simply, a Vegemite book. It's going to be one that readers either love or hate - and I can completely see both sides of the argument. If the likability of a character is a huge selling point for you as a reader, then go into this one prepared - most of the characters just aren't very nice people.
Natalie and Brooke are best friends, but complete opposites. Brooke is a party animal - she's an attention-seeking, binge drinking, uninvested-in-her-future bitch - and she's OK with that. Natalie is the bookworm - quiet, unassuming and (slightly annoyingly) hot without knowing it friend, who is finally convinced to go to a party with Brooke - and does something that is pretty unforgivable in a friendship.
All of this happens pretty early on in the book, and I can see why for some people it's a downward spiral - but I love to hate a character, and that's what drove me to keep reading - because I wanted to see if firstly they could actually redeem themselves, and secondly because I was curious about the drive behind the characters.
The only thing that disappointed me about Anything to Have You is that there is a large portion of Natalie's story that focuses on her relationship with Aiden. She does feel some guilt over betraying Brooke, but it didn't really feel heartfelt - more like she was going through the motions.
The book is split roughly in half - the first half told from Natalie's perspective, and the second half from Brooke's, although in getting to Brooke's perspective, it's pretty easy to despise her so much already that redeeming her as a character is almost an insurmountable task. But I think Harbison did a good job in trying to explain Brooke's behaviour and the implications of it, and by the end I felt sympathetic towards her rather than just a burning hatred.
Anything to Have You doesn't glamorise being a teenager, and Harbison did this similarly in New Girl - we may not want to think about teens drinking, having sex and being irresponsible, but I have to applaud Harbison's honestly in the telling of Anything to Have You - because these are realities for some teens.
Although it has some issues, if you can overlook or embrace (if you are bit twisted like moi) very flawed characters, confronting yet realistic scenarios and a couple of girls who really should have more respect for themselves and each other, Anything to Have you is an interesting read, that doesn't bow down to certain ideals that sometimes creep into YA literature.