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Friendship by the Book – The Sun in Your Eyes

Published: July 16, 2016 | Last Updated: December 24, 2022 By | Reply Continue Reading

“The Sun In Your Eyes” (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2016) is a novel about female friendship.

Vivian and Lee met in college and probably never should have become or stayed friends. Lee is the daughter of a rock legend, who died tragically young, and a glamorous clothing designer. The more stable Vivian is starstruck by her friend first as a young woman and then when they reconnect after several years apart.

Lee asks Vivian to accompany her on a road trip to learn more about her father and perhaps locate some of his missing songs.

Of the two, Lee was the far more interesting and complex. Wounded, provocative, lacking boundaries, I always felt a sadness about her, perhaps an empty hole she was trying to fill to escape the void she felt about her father’s death and her emotionally unavailable mother. Vivian, who narrated most of the book, was hard for me to embrace. She had lots of feelings about her relationships with her husband and Lee, but never voiced feeling hurt or asked for clarification.

Cover: The Sun in Your Eyes

Cover: The Sun in Your Eyes

Viv assumed the worst and held onto things. Both women had narcissistic features, Lee’s were more pronounced and overt. Vivian’s seemed more subtle. While she acknowledged at times wanting to hurt Lee with her words, I never got the idea Viv felt badly or wanted to do better for herself.

For me, friends like Lee are easier to embrace, because what you see is pretty much what you get. I can adjust my expectations accordingly. Vivian, meanwhile, had an unspoken secondary friendship with Lee inside her head with assumptions and innuendos, and about which Lee knew nothing.

I liked that the author of The Sun in Your Eyes, Deborah Shapiro, included letters, articles and interviews from Lee’s parents’ past to help understand the phenomenon of Lee’s father and his death. I didn’t enjoy switching points of view from Vivian’s first-person narration to Lee’s third-person. I also didn’t like that the book had large sections without chapters, so finding opportunities to pause was sometimes difficult.

The most interesting aspects of the story for me belonged to Lee and her journey, but much of The Sun in Your Eyes was devoted to Vivian’s internal dialogue with herself about Lee and others with more telling than showing.

I think many readers will recognize aspects of female friendships of their own throughout the book. The dynamic between the two women reminds me of that in Bufflehead Sisters by Patricia DeLois and Kristin Hannah in Firefly Lane books.

Read a review of “The Sun in Your Eyes” in the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal called this novel one of “the season’s most exciting fiction reads.”

Disclosure: Amy Feld received a complimentary copy of The Sun in Your Eyes in exchange for her honest review. Amazon.com pays the site owner a small affiliate commission for purchases made through this site, at no extra cost to you, which is used to maintain this blog as a free resource.)

‘”Friendship by the Book” is an occasional series of posts on this blog about books that offer friendship lessons. To read other posts in the series, use the search function on the right side of the page. 

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Category: Books & movies about friendship

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