In her second novel, Ashley Woodfolk (The Beauty That Remains) offers a powerful close-up view of what it means to lose a best friend and to feel like you’re facing the world alone.
For years, best friends Cleo and Layla were everything to each other. But over the summer, Layla began to drift in a new direction, leaving Cleo behind bit by bit. Then, nearly a month before the start of the novel, in a rash moment of anger, frustration and vengefulness, Cleo imploded what remained of the friendship.
Anchorless and distraught, Cleo begins to form friendships with other classmates (and a budding romance with Dom, the gorgeous new boy in school). Despite these steps forward, she has been shaken to the core by what happened. The experience has left her unable to truly trust others until she learns to forgive Layla—and herself.
In Cleo’s voice, Woodfolk captures the raw, messy emotions that accompany the unique heartbreak of expired friendships. The book’s chapters alternate seamlessly between “then” and “now,” whisking readers along through Cleo’s and Layla’s intense journeys. In effortless prose, Woodfolk illustrates the depth of their friendship, the chaos of its unraveling and the devastation of its aftermath as Cleo tries to pick up the pieces and find a way forward without her other half.
When You Were Everything is a beautiful ode to friendship in all its stages: brand new, breaking apart and weathered. Its exploration of love and loyalty is sure to resonate with any reader who’s experienced the loss of a friend.