Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright

The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright
Pan Macmillan
Release date: March 26th 2015
Genre: Adult Fiction
Friendship is like a shark: it has to keep moving forwards to survive. Esther and Laura have been best friends since they were seven, when Esther was chubby and Laura was already perfect. So much has changed since then - school, boyfriends, drink, experimental hair-dye, university, jobs, London, babies - and their friendship has changed just as much, but they are still close, still inextricably linked to one another. So when Esther is told that Laura has gone missing, she leaves everything behind - including her husband and small child - to fly to San Francisco and trace her friend's last movements. All she has is an email from Laura: 'I'm channelling Drew Barrymore, as ever. The Gospel, right?' In trying to understand why Laura has disappeared, and what on earth Drew Barrymore has to do with it, Esther needs to look back. Back at the secrets woven into their friendship and the truths she's avoided facing for so long.

Firstly, happy publication day! 

Like Hannah's review yesterday, The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is a perfect pick for summer reading. But, let's be real, the title of this book was what made me want to read it. And I am so glad it did; The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is a hidden gem. 

"By my definition a best friend should have known you long enough to see you through at least one failed relationship, snot in your hair, smoking an inhuman number of cigarettes, eating nothing." 

In regards to feminism and literature, seeing how female relationships and friendships are portrayed is something of huge interest to me (if you're not familiar with the Bechdel Test, click here). Pippa Wright's latest is a book devoted to the important of female friendship, and how they form us throughout our entire lives.

The novel follows Ester and Laura, two young girls who became friends through their mothers and whose friendship was cemented by the desire to play Drew Barrymore's Gertie in ET. The novel flits between past and present, showing the 'coming of age' and development of the girls. 
Throughout the story, the girls are portrayed as complex and each moment in their lives is highlighted as important. The conflict of power and male dominance (in the work place especially) is shown as a part of female life which is considered normal, although unfair and is shown through scenes within the book. How the girls friendship is tested is also another strong strand through the novel. Although already presented with our mystery of Laura being missing, the alternating between past and present allows the reader to see where the problems in their friendship occurred and the those who tested its strength. 

What interested me was the choice of Drew Barrymore for the girls' way to live life. For Ester and Laura, Drew Barrymore is their feminist symbol and their idol for advice. Considering context, Barrymore is portrayed by the media to be "anti-feminist" while her characters spark independence, fight and confidence in our two main characters. This is one of the main things I adore about this novel; regardless of it being fiction or set starting in the 80s, the importance of representation and female role models in mass media has a huge effect of the lives of many. Throughout their story, Laura and Ester both depend on Barrymore's wisdom and what that means to them for their own personal direction. Wright explores more thoroughly the importance of female role models through media on the journey to adulthood better than any other author I've ever read. 

The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is the most surprising book I've read so far this year. Pippa Wright, similar to Dawn O'Porter's Paper Aeroplanes, holds a magnifying glass up to   friendships and cherishers the flaws as well as the good. The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is not just 'chick lit,' it's a representation of real life, the struggles of growing up, finding a place in the adult-world, starting over, being strong for somebody else, a mystery, and how life is different with a best friend to hold your hand through it all.  

"A best friend is different. A best friend is somebody who doesn't have to be there, but chooses to be, through everything."

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