Pages: 303 pages, paperback proof
Acquired: Proof kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.
Natalie and Brooke have had each other's backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie—the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.
Then it happens—one crazy night that Natalie can't remember and Brooke's boyfriend, Aiden, can't forget. Suddenly there's a question mark in Natalie and Brooke's friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.
Story: Well, you guys know I'm a huge fan of Paige Harbison's books. I've said before that sitting down to read her newest offering is like sitting down to have a fat glass of wine and a big catch up with an old friend and, after reading Anything to Have You, I completely stand by that statement.
When I first started reading Anything to Have You I thought I was going to get a fun, light-hearted contemporary YA story about boys and love and house parties. And that is what I got, at first, but in the second half of the novel things take an abrupt turn for the darker and see the main characters' lives spiral completely out of control, leading to a climax that completely shocked me.
Anything to Have You has a hell of a lot more to it than the first couple of chapters suggest. The beginning is a blast to read but I love how multi-faceted and complex the real story was; it tackled numerous issues but wasn't too heavy-handed about it. I'm not going to mention them all because of spoilers but Harbison deals with some tough issues in a sensitive and entertaining way. Bravo!
Writing: As is always the case with Harbison's books, the writing is snappy, sassy and sharp. Brooke's one liners are pure evil and her chapters are full of wit and snark. Excellent. Natalie is the calmer of the pair and the difference in the two girls' voices is great - with dual narrative it's so easy for me to lose my way and get confused about who's talking but that didn't happen at all in Anything to Have You.
The dialogue is the book's strength, with the tight cast of characters bouncing off of each other on each and every page. With in jokes, pop culture references and more teen slang than a fifteen year old's Instagram feed, Anything to Have You had me laughing out loud at the sheer outlandishness of the dialogue, Brook's in particular.
Characters: Is there anybody else who writes loveable bitches as well as Paige Harbison? Nah, I don't think so. Brook is the ultimate mean party girl and I loved her, naturally. Our protagonist, and her counterpart, Natalie, is much more reserved and known as a 'good girl', but this doesn't make her boring, as Natalie has her own secrets...
While the 'party girl and her best friend' double act could easily become a cliche, Harbison makes both of the girls fully realised characters, who never feel stereotypical. Their friendship was flawed and real and heartbreaking; I loved the roller coaster the girls go on throughout the novel and, while the love story is important, it's the girls' friendship that's the real focus here, and rightly so.
Aiden, our main man candy, is delicious. Sensitive, Southern and downright sexy, he's a dreamboat and a half and it's no wonder the two girls are both drawn to him. Managing to be a conventional 'hottie' without falling into the 'pretty but blah' trap so many male leads do, he's definitely a character I'll remember for a long time, which I think is always the case with the characters Harbison creates. She's so relevant it hurts and all of this shines through in her writing.
Final thoughts: Well, that makes a hat trick. If you haven't read Harbison's first two novels then why the devil not? Do it for me, go on.