Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
My Best Friend’s Exorcism
The marvelous cover of this book hints at faded 80s glory, and the inside delivers big hair and many references to dorky tv shows and songs that people felt strongly about back then. Abby and Gretchen are best friends from the age of ten and for a while it’s good, but then one of them is possessed by a demon and requires an exorcism.
You might think that description and the cover means it’s a up straight comedy, but I was surprised to discover that it is also creepy and gory and horrific, sometimes all four in successive paragraphs. There are many levels to each aspect, for example demonic possession tends toward gory and horrific but here it can also relate to surviving high school and navigating friendships. Abby and Gretchen are best friends forever, but Margaret and Glee complete a foursome who hang out and manage to get in more trouble than you would think possible. Times get more and more dire as the demon sinks his claws in deep and the humor begins to cower in the corner. If this was turned into a movie we would have an excellent entry into the stable of possession movies like The Exorcist and The Conjuring.
I’ve never had a best friend so I have no idea what that’s really like, though I have known people who do had a lifelong best friend, like my grandmother. Author Grady Hendrix gives us an intimate look at the best friend relationship between two girls, and since this is concept only to me I couldn’t say if he has gotten it right. It feels right, though, so when the relationship between Abby and Gretchen is threatened by demonic possession it’s like possibly losing a major and dear character.
During a crucial part of the book I was squirming in disgust, horrified at the wrenching awfulness of what was happening to Abby and Gretchen, and then laughing out loud when Hendrix, still in the middle of the anxious scene, got very funny all of a sudden. Funny, but still anxious. I found this contrast extremely effective and well done. What surprised me the most was the very very end of the book, which made me cry hard enough I had to go hide in the bathroom for a while. That’s a first for me on reading a book, and I still haven’t decided if it’s because the end was incredibly affecting, or if it struck a personal note a little too hard.
Grady Hendrix hasn’t written a lot of books but if this one is any indication he’ll be someone to watch. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is as funny as the cover promises, but also a serious exploration of what real, deep friendship is all about, and a harsh horror novel that will wrench your heart a few times. Give this one a try if you can handle that much gore and humor in one novel.
CFR: In Addition: After talking with Mildred about this book, I want to read it. Add to the summer list!
Also! One day I want to write the Unitarian-Universalist Exorcism. Trust me, it will be funny