I have been friends with a group of girls since high school, and though our lives have taken off in different directions, we’re still friends. We’ve done different things, went to different colleges, married and had kids at different times, but are still able to connect. That’s not the case for Sarah and Lauren, the main characters of Rumaan Alam’s Rich and Pretty. They’ve been friends for years, have been together through high school, through college. When this story picks up they’re in their 30s. One marries first, shifting the focus of their relationship.
Sarah and Lauren have been inseparable for years, but aren’t as close as they seem. Despite the praise this book received, I don’t like either of these characters. Not that its necessary to love the characters, they just seem to be the type of girls I would never want to be friends with. The story itself seems somewhat interesting, but the most interesting thing to me is that the story was written by a man. He is well tuned to the female psyche.
Of the two girls, was one meant to be the pretty one, and one the rich one? They first meet when they are 11, both students of an exclusive private school in NYC. Sarah’s parents are wealthy, and she meets Lauren, the recipient of a scholarship at Sarah’s school. After college, living in the city, they seem to be equals, although Sarah’s background allows her some freedom that Lauren doesn’t have, a safety net. Despite these ongoing differences, they remain friends. It’s the differences in their personal lives that ultimately seem to drive them apart.
Their inability to relate, and Sarah’s marriage and quick entry into motherhood drives them apart. If this is all it took for them to lose touch, maybe they weren’t that close after all. Lauren has always been different from Sarah, from the beginning of their friendship. After Sarah is married and has a child, Lauren remains an outsider. They both evolve, and over the course of a 20-year friendship, of course they change. There’s no climax in this story, and the story itself is mostly uneventful. Like most of our lives, the events are marriages, births, career moves. How do we connect with those in our lives throughout all these events and changes? That’s the ultimate question this book poses. Their lives are complex, our lives are complex, this story is not.