#73 – Book Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

[heyhappenstance’s rating]

“Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act . . . different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?.” (source)

Here’s an example of a good story with a bad (maybe tacky?) title. I’d like to think that the author has just run out of time, because, other than that, she wrote so well.

So, this book.

This reminds me a lot of A Head Full of Ghosts because of that speculative element on the whole, “my best friend is being possessed by the devil,” plot. For the first 80% this read like your typical contemporary YA: girlfights and boys and raging hormones. Was the best friend really possessed or was it just growing pains? You’ll have to hold your breath on that one because a lot of possibilities were explored, and they were all very encouraging.

I also liked the little bit of time travel with the setting: the late 1980’s and all the songs that made you cringe outside but sway your imaginary (and definitely slim) hips on the inside (disco!!). The pictures and extra scribbles were a nice touch but not necessary to drive the story forward (although it did add some layer to the storytelling).. but like I said, the author wrote very well.

“For Abby, “friend” is a word whose sharp corners have been worn smooth by overuse. “I’m friends with the guys in IT,” she might say, or “I’m meeting some friends after work.” But she remembers when the word “friend” could draw blood… writing each other’s names over and over in purple ink, buzzed on the dopamine high of belonging to someone else, having a total stranger choose you, someone who wanted to know you, another person who cared that you were alive.”

She really could do better with a different title though.

Is it horror, you may ask? Not particularly. It doesn’t have the usual boo mother-effer tactics like the Peter Blatty one. This one is the kind that permeates. You think about a particular scene and your mind does the rest.

Overall, I liked it. The ending made me tear up a bit – that sweet ending was a surprise, obviously, given the plot of the book. In hindsight, the possession part might have simply been a backdrop to a wonderful story about the lengths a person would take to save her best friend.

Go, give it a try.


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