'Friends and Strangers' explores the pitfalls of adult friendships

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”― Aristotle

Finding new friends as an adult can be difficult. Simply sharing an interest in books or music doesn’t result in a friendship with a new person, something about the other person’s personality just has to click in order to form a genuine friendship. Our latest read takes us to upstate New York where a new mother bonds with a college senior.

Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

After her husband relocates their family from Brooklyn to a college town in upstate New York, Elisabeth finds it difficult to adjust to her new life. As a writer she can work from anywhere, but with the new baby she can’t seem to think let alone write. When she hires Sam, a senior at one of the local colleges to nanny for her three days a week the two women form an unexpected friendship. Sam is quasi-engaged to her long distance boyfriend in London and finds herself worrying about what she’ll do after graduation. When she meets Elisabeth, Sam views her as an effortlessly cool and chic mentor and finds herself drawn to Elisabeth’s complicated family life. As Sam and Elisabeth grow closer, Sam befriends George, Elisabeth’s quirky father-in-law, whose Hollow Tree theory intrigues the nanny and she begins to attend his weekly meetings to discuss how capitalism is working to undermine those who aren’t in the 1 percent.

J. Courtney Sullivan’s latest novel, “Friends and Strangers” set to be published on June 30, explores motherhood and socioeconomic divides through Elisabeth and Sam’s friendship. The relationship is never quite on an even ground as Elisabeth always has the upperhand as Sam’s employer. Sullivan’s writing is captivating and witty as the characters observe the disconnects in their respective lives and those around them.

From the book jacket…

Elisabeth, an accomplished journalist and new mother, is struggling to adjust to life in a small town after nearly twenty years in New York City. Alone in the house with her infant son all day (and awake with him much of the night), she feels uneasy, adrift. She neglects her work, losing untold hours to her Brooklyn moms’ Facebook group, her “influencer” sister’s Instagram feed, and text messages with the best friend she never sees anymore. Enter Sam, a senior at the local women’s college, whom Elisabeth hires to babysit. Sam is struggling to decide between the path she’s always planned on and a romantic entanglement that threatens her ambition. She’s worried about student loan debt and what the future holds. In short order, they grow close. But when Sam finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Elisabeth’s father-in-law, the true differences between the women’s lives become starkly revealed and a betrayal has devastating consequences.

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoy “Friends and Strangers” might also be captivated by Sullivan’s novel “Saints for All Occasions,” which follows a pair of close sisters who were divided by the secret they keep.