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Book Review – My Best Friend’s Exorcism

It didn’t come easy. They cared hard. They cared about their clothes, they cared about their hair, they cared about their makeup (Abby especially cared about her makeup), and they cared about their grades. Abby, Gretchen, Glee, and Margaret were going places.

Set in the heart of the eighties, My Best Friend’s Exorcism follows Abby as her best friend, Gretchen, becomes possessed by the devil.

I always love when authors take on a time period and do it well. Sometimes they overdo it and just soak you in the obvious necessities of an era–leg warmers, side ponies, valley girl accents–and it just leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. But other times they perfect the equation, and weave little reminders here or there throughout the novel to pull you back into a time that doesn’t belong to you, while not holding you there in a way that seems offensive.

Grady Hendrix, our talented author, did an awesome job with the eighties. It wasn’t un-researched, it wasn’t ridiculous, it was perfect. 

Abby looked out at the bright orange sunset burning itself off over the marsh and felt something final: she’d taken acid. It was irreversibly in her system. No matter what happened now she had to ride this out. The sunset glowed and throbbed on the horizon, and Abby wondered if it would look so vivid if she hadn’t just dropped acid.

Heavy gravity was coming off his body in waves and washing over Abby.

To the far left, a wound sliced through the horizon and orange light was bleeding through.

I’m such a sucker for literary fiction. I love the way it’s crafted, and how it’s aimed at broadening the mundaneness of something. This novel had so many beautiful literary moments. So many glittering lines and paragraphs. Grady achieved the perfect balance by describing an ugly transformation from teenaged girl to demonically possessed psychopath with the most beautiful of lines and characterizations.

It was surprising to me to find out that Grady was indeed a boy. I thought he did such an amazing job with these teenaged girls. While their language was a little raunchier than I spoke at that age, and the girls were a teensy bit unemotional at times–they didn’t have as many meltdowns as most of us girls do–he did an exceptional job putting himself in teenaged girl shoes. 

I don’t know where in the bookstore this novel would go, I found it in the adult section, which was surprising as the main characters are sophomores in high school, but I would put it in YA. It has the type of maturity that could cater to many different age groups, but I think it would serve its purpose best in YA. 

But first you have to burn away everything that doesn’t matter. You have to burn away leg warmers and New Age crystals, and Madonna, and aerobics, and New Kids on the Block, and the boy you’re sweet on in school. You burn away your parents, and your friends, and everything you ever cared about, and you burn away personal safety, conventional morality. And when all that is gone, when everything is swept away in the fire and everything around you is ash, what you have left is just a tiny nugget, a little kernel of something that is good, and pure, and true. And you pick that pebble up, and you throw it at the fortress this demon has built in your friend’s soul, this leviathan of hatred and fear and oppression, and you throw this tiny pebble and it hits that wall and it goes ping… and nothing happens. That’s when you’ll have the hardest doubts you ever had in your life. But never doubt the truth. Never underestimate it. Because a second later, if you’ve been through the fire, you’ll hear the cracks start to spread, and all those mighty walls and iron gates will collapse like a house of cards because you have harrowed yourself all that’s left is truth. That’s what the pebble is Abby. It’s our core.

In Charleston, the day you become an adult is the day you learn to ignore your neighbor’s drunk driving and focus instead on whether he submitted a paint-color change proposal to the Board of Architectural Review.

I learned a few things from this novel, as surprising as that is. It’s laughable to find yourself inspired by this novel, but I did. Gretchen and Abby’s friendship conquered all (even demonic possession), including me. 

It was so heartwarming. Even though the main character is a total pushover and even though the other main character was a total bitch, it was completely heartwarming. 

I would definitely recommend this novel. It’s a quick read, as realistic as a novel about demonic possession can be, that flies by at the speed of light as it sucks you farther and farther into its peculiar depths. 

33/38

P.S. Sorry this review is so short, I have to hop on a plane tomorrow at, like, 5 AM.

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