While I read a lot of Chick Lit that I like, rarely does a book make me want to grab the heroine, take her out for a few drinks, and help her learn from my mistakes. Reading Meredith Schorr’s Just Friends With Benefits made me want to do just that. Thirteen years after college, Stephanie Cohen’s crush on Craig Hille resurfaces, and Stephanie vows Craig will not be the one who got away… twice.  Despite her friend Suzanne’s warning to “not put all her eggs in one bastard”, Stephanie takes on a “friends with benefits”relationship with Craig, certain that these frenetic hookups will eventually lead to true love.

What Schorr captures so well is the knack we have for overanalyzing and justifying everything our crush says or does, or doesn’t say and doesn’t do.  I found myself repeatedly wanting to say, “Stephanie! Open your eyes! He doesn’t feel about you the way you feel about him!”

But when we’re in that place, when we are so certain that HE IS THE ONE, we are loath to acknowledge anything that might show us we’re wrong. And we’re overeager to read more into what he says or does than he really intends.  That’s where I found myself really pulling for Stephanie, and being pulled in by Schorr’s story. Because I’ve been there. Most women I know have been there. I found myself really hoping Stephanie would not compare every guy she dates to Craig, and find happiness somewhere else.  I have a lot more to say on this matter, actually, but it would be full of spoilers and I don’t want to do that, so suffice it to say that I identified with Stephanie trying to figure out her relationships.

The other part of the story that is compelling, and also full of reality, is Stephanie’s relationship with her friends.  They tease each other, support each other, and call each other on their bullshit. I used to have a tribe like that , where we spent weekends and holidays together, a surrogate family of sorts. So whenever Paul, Stephanie’s ex, was on the page, I kept picturing my old friend James. Although James and I never dated, the dynamic between James and me was so similar to what is between Paul and Stephanie that I found myself picturing me and my friends as Stephanie and the other characters throughout the story.

I got a kick, too, out of some random pop culture references in the story, like Charles Chips. I remember the tins from when I was a kid. And reading the “here’s to the men that we love..” toast? Well, I used that one a number of times in my own college career.  So, reading Just Friends With Benefits was a lot like revisiting some of my own life. I appreciated the realism Schorr brought to the story. And as Stephanie figured out what really was right for her, I found myself wanting to know what story Schorr will share with us next.