Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

I went into this book thinking it would be these three things: a quick and easy read, light-hearted and fun. But instead, it turned out to be these three things: heartbreaking, hard to read and a crazy emotional rollercoaster.

This is a gorgeous book I found myself relating to in a lot of ways.

TRIGGER WARNING: infertility, loss, mental health

Spoilers included

★ ★ . ✫

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

But I hated the ending, even though I adored everything else.

It was too difficult to read, too hard to accept. Because way too often, it’s not like that.

“I’ll orbit around you and be your universe, because you’ve always been my sun.”

If it hadn’t been for that end, this book would have been five solid stars for me, but unfortunately, Abby Jimenez turned a book that would’ve had an amazing, strong female main character struggling with infertility and even mentions of loss and mental illness.

The writing style itself was breathtaking and I found myself wishing I could have even half of that talent–the meet cute is anything but cute. He rear ends her while they’re in traffic and she spills coffee all over herself (I’d probably cry), and and then cusses him out.

The thing is though, Kristen has a boyfriend, Tyler, who’s a marine but she’s not even 100% certain about him.

It’s just that you’re perfect, and my heart hurts

While it’s meant to be romance and we all, evidently, root for Josh and Kristen as the story unfolds, I did find it a little shitty that this romance was thinly-veiled beneath a sugary coating of friendship when they were both so blatantly attracted to each other. Kristen is super into Josh, she’s wildly attracted to him and he, obviously, feels the same. He knows and learns about her wants and needs, they become closer together and have the same sense of humour–I loved when he bought her fries and chocolate milkshake when she got her period. I loved seeing them bond, but I hated the lack of communication.

I hated the whole “she’s not like other girls” aspect of The Friend Zone.

It felt unnecessary, insulting to all women and the complete opposite of feminist–something that the book tries, and fails, to portray itself as. I was so in love with everything at the start–it was swoon-worthy and I loved how Josh fell for Kristen, and accepted everything, but really, a man that wants nine children? What the fuck is this?

There was a constant will-they-won’t-they theme splayed out through the book, despite the sex (which, by the way, was hot AF!) combined with the return of her boyfriend and the feelings she has for Josh. Alongside having endometriosis, Kristen has a bit of a stubborn, kind of shitty personality where she treats Josh a bit like shit because of her own insecurities. Fair enough it’s because of him constantly talking about all the million and one biological babies he wants to have (god, there are other ways to have a family, and yes it might take a while but still–it’s possible), but it was so unnecessary.

I get that Kristen feels like she doesn’t want to take anything away from him–she doesn’t want to stop him from having the family and life he wants, even though she really likes-and-or-loves him. I do understand that part of it and I relate to it. I Have PCOS and struggle with infertility myself, so this part of the book–and All Your Perfects {a book that changed how I see relationships}–absolutely shattered my heart.

The thing is, I liked the complexity of the characters and I loved the fact the infertility aspect was explored in The Friend Zone. Other than All Your Perfects, this is the first book I read that mentioned this, and endometriosis. It was so beautiful but it was so unbearably devastating, and I hated it–I hated how invested I got, I hated the stubborn and shitty way Kristen behaved. Because it’s like, it’s not up to you to make a decision for someone else. It was annoying and frustrating to read, but ultimately i did get where she came from, but my god, it was a piss-take. And realistic.

Why won’t you let me love you?

That part of it, of Kristen’s personality, was real and flawed, made it seem more real than a romance book.

I understood that she felt unworthy of love, because of her struggles with her body. Sometimes it can make it seem like your body is entirely separate to you–it can feel like your body is betraying you despite doing everything you can to nourish it and love it, so why is your body hurting you? At least, that’s how I feel. In so many ways, I’m feeling like a different person, like I don’t belong in my body.

The devastation that comes with not knowing whether you can 100% conceive or not is on another level and it hurts and it feels like being stabbed over and over in the same place, the knife twisting and turning and yanking until you’re bleeding out.

What I hated about The Friend Zone, however, was the need for tragedy to strike.

Not only that, but you’d think when Kristen accepts herself, her body, not being able to have biological children and realising that she is deserving of love and happiness, then . . . we would see a happily ever after that includes this without miraculously having a biological child. When the whole goddamn point of this book was self-love despite the infertility that breaks your heart. But god, god. God.

Abby Jimenez gives the message that the only way you can ever truly be happy is by getting pregnant and birthing a child from your own fucking vagina. Because that’s the only way of being a parent.

It’s problematic, it’s harmful, it’s heartbreaking. It’s cruel.

Josh and Kristen talked about surrogacy. They’re aware adoption is an option. There are so many other ways to be a parent. So why did Kristen have to, by some magic, get pregnant in the end? Somehow a heavy period pushes out the IUD and Josh’s super sperm impregnates her. I know someone who miraculously got pregnant even though she had severe endometriosis, but I also know so many women who have PCOS and endometriosis that are unable to get pregnant and haven’t.

This is so, so, so rare and to have seen this ending in a book that’s supposedly about the strength of coming to terms with not being able to get pregnant, of loving yourself and finding happiness, was awful.

Real life never has this fairy-tale ending and so it’s just . . . why? Why would she do this?

This ending isn’t realistic no matter how hard some of us might dream and hope and pray for it. It’s like all that growth, that development, was just thrown into the fire for some happy ending that could have still happened in another way.

And please, can we talk about how Tyler deserved better? He did nothing wrong. He was smart, intelligent, charming, rich and enjoyed the pleasures of life–he did nothing to hurt Kristen and she treated him like garbage.

The more I’m writing this review, the more I’m starting to hate the book. The first half was great and then . . . bam.

Would I recommend this book? No, not anymore. It’s heartbreaking and awful and too harmful for our mental wellbeing, especially for those of us struggling with getting pregnant.

P.S. why is it such a big, groundbreaking thing when a man buys tampons or pads? Please, it’s so not a big deal at all. My boyfriend does it all the time–it’s not like the cashier at Superdrug or Tesco will think it’s for him lmao. It’s literally not that deep.

P.P.S I forgot to mention, the author’s note at the end was such bullshit and made me even angrier and sadder. She wrote: “Kristen’s happy ending was never about getting pregnant. It was about her allowing herself to be loved, despite what she felt were shortcomings. It was about her recognizing that she wasn’t defined by her ability to have children, and that her worth went beyond the state of her uterus. That was her happily ever after.” Okay, so if the point and happily-ever-after was never about Kristen getting pregnant . . . why the fuck did she?????????

I’ll do you a solid. Don’t read this book, for your own sake. Or do, and let’s bash it. Because it’s such a colossal waste of time.

I missed him. No amount of time lessened it. It made it worse. My heart was a neglected building, and every day I weathered a fierce storm that dripped through my roof, flooded my floors, and broke my windows, and the disrepair just made me weaker and closer to collapse.

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