Review: “When We Were” by Alexandra Diaz

"When We Were” by Alexandra Diaz A review by Amanda.

When We Were is a contemporary YA novel about three high school girls, who are each coming into their own. Tara, Pinkie, and Whitney Blaire have been friends since the first grade, despite their differences. Tara is an athlete training for a marathon. Her training is also her escape from the difficulties that life brings. Her perfect boyfriend, Brent, trains with her and their relationship fills others with envy. Pinkie is an anxious, type A personality, working hard for perfect grades and the attention of an older boy. Whitney Blaire, who is only ever referred to by her first and last name, is the popular party girl, the flirt. Each girl depends on the others, until a rumor about Brent changes everything. Enter new girl Riley, who threatens the friendships in a way no one sees coming…

On the surface, each character appeared to fit a stereotype. Tara was the dedicated athlete, Whitney Blaire was the popular mean girl, and Pinkie was the sweet, awkward nerdy girl. As the story developed, you began to see that things are not as they seemed. Pinkie is naive and insecure, with some prejudices that seem surprising. Tara is dealing with commitment issues, thanks to her deadbeat father. Whitney Blaire is fiercely loyal to her friends, and her superficiality covers up loneliness and intimacy issues due to her wealthy parents’ lack of attention. Even Riley, who seems to be a bad girl bent on destruction has more depth than we see at first. Above all, this is a story about friendship, growth, and love. All of the main characters are relatable in one way or another, and as the chapters switch between Whitney Blaire, Pinkie, and Tara, the story becomes clearer and the reader can see things that the characters do not. I recommend this book to teenagers and young adults everywhere. This book deals with sex and sexual feelings in a realistic and matter-of-fact way. It’s not glorified or glamorized, which is rare in books aimed at teens. The main theme of When We Were is the ups and downs of friendship, in a way that everyone can relate to. This is the first book that I’ve read by Alexandra Diaz, and I will certainly be on the lookout for more of her work.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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