Best friends growing up along Clement Moore Avenue in Queens, Brisma and Kelly will do anything for each other. They keep each other’s secrets, from their mother’s hidden heartbreaks to warding off the unwanted advances of creepy neighbors. Their exclusive world shifts when they begin high school and Brisma falls deeply in love with Brian, the local baseball legend. Always the wallflower to the vibrant and alluring Kelly, Brisma is secretly thrilled to be chosen by the popular athlete, to finally have someone that belongs to her alone. But as she, Brian, and Kelly fall into the roles that have been set before them, they ignite a bonfire of unrealized hopes and dreams, smoldering embers that finally find some oxygen to burn.
Years later, Brisma and Kelly haven’t spoken to Brian, ever since a backyard party that went wrong, but their beloved Los Mets are on a historic run for the playoffs and the three friends–no longer children–are reunited. Brisma finds herself once again drawn to her first love. But when Brian is accused of sexual assault, the two friends must make a choice. At first, both rush to support and defend him. But while Kelly remains Brian’s staunch defender, Brisma begins to have doubts as old memories of their relationship surface. As Brisma and Kelly face off in a battle for what they each believe they are owed, these two lifelong friends must decide if their shared past is enough to sustain their future.
This was not an easy read, although it wasn’t too time-consuming. Brisma and Kelly’s friendship was sometimes hard to read, as the way Kelly treated Brisma was at times harsh and ugly. The culture of the neighborhood they grew up in was terrible: hurtful, angry, and full of pain, but those things affected each girl differently. Their relationship with men was also a challenge to read about, but I enjoyed Brisma’s growth thoroughly, even when I wanted to throw the book across the room a few times.
Christine Kandic Torres was born and raised in Queens. The Girls in Queens is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of HarperVia in exchange for an honest review.)