New York City, NY

NYC Manipulation in "That's What Frenemies Are For"

The Fiction Addiction
That's What Frenemies Are ForPhoto by(Cover art from the publisher)

In That's What Frenemies Are For, by Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell,  upscale New York mommy Julia maintains her popularity and status by discovering designers, masterminding charity events, and winning the backhand compliments Olympics. But when her Hamptons home needs repairs, poor Julia is basically trapped in Manhattan for the whole summer, which is basically social exile from her wealthy mommy friends, and Julia needs to plot a dramatic comeback after this terrible tragedy.

I love twisted friendship stories, and I loved the snarky put-downs and backhanded compliments in the mommy posse, and how much Julia really, really cared about maintaining social status amount her almost-friends. For most of the book, her worries are the hilarious non-problems of the very rich, which makes this such a fun read. Oh no! Her status has fallen so far, she's gonna be the volunteer coordinator instead of a co-chair at the next charity gala! True escapist fun, except for the one throwaway reference to a character's underpaid little non-career as an ESL teacher. Damn.

Julia wins a spin class -- AKA massively overpays for a donated gift card a charity evening. While Julia's sculpting her new body and setting up the spin instructor Tatum as her next great find to impress her friends, fresh-faced Midwestern Tatum has her own agenda. (What?!? People who aren't rich have thoughts too!?!?) This sets off an intense and fun social drama, full of backstabbing,  lies, and competitive mommy-ing, in an upscale, designer-everything setting.

These women are all pretending to be friends in their Hamptons summer homes and Insta captions, all while making backhanded quips and changing alliances. I couldn't stop reading about the social drama and competitions, which almost entirely obscure real disasters coming into Julia's life.

Recommended for fans of the Manhattan competition in Social Creature, or the competitive motherhood and social media style of Happy And You Know It.

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