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  • Writer's pictureS. Jennifer Paulson

Are unlikely friendships far-fetched?

Spoiler alert: This post is intended for readers who have finished "Boomerang." If you have not, stop reading now. (I don't want to ruin the ending for you.)

two women
Friendships can blossom where you least expect it. Canva AI image.

Sometimes, we find friendships in the oddest of situations.

And my debut domestic thriller, Boomerang, is the perfect example.

A few readers have expressed they think the Taryn-Evelyn friendship is a little far-fetched.

I get that.

It does sound a little nutty that a woman who trailed someone and also lied about her true identity would form a friendship after the truth was spilled.

Especially given one of Taryn's nearly unforgivable actions.

But I think it's perfect. I love underdog stories, as well as the power of strong female friendships.

So, why would I go there? Because the truth can really be stranger than fiction.

I knew I had to end the book as I did. It was important to me that the ending was a positive one, given the darkness of the novel. And, had this been a true story, I think the Taryn-Evelyn bond is absolutely possible.

I poked around online and ChatGPT explained it this way: "Shared traumatic experiences can create a deep connection because both individuals understand the emotional impact of what they've gone through in a way that others might not. This mutual understanding can lead to a profound sense of closeness and solidarity."

Which is exactly what happened in the last chapter of my novel. The final confrontation was terrifying (even for me to write it), but it laid the groundwork for the epilogue.

I know. Because it happened to me.

women holding hands
Every woman needs a strong female friend. No matter the circumstances.

I know from my own life experiences that unlikely friendships can form in the strangest of places.

Such as growing to adore your ex-husband's girlfriend.

Yep, you read that right.

Case in point: When my kids' dad began dating Heather about a year after our divorce, I was jealous. I had no right to be. But it felt strange to see social media posts of my ex and his new love at Disney World with our kids. I would think, That used to be me. It was strange to see another woman step into my kids' lives, especially as my own love life was pretty dismal.

But in time, I saw what my ex and my kids saw. I grew to care for Heather. She loved my kids as her own. And she never interfered with co-parenting with my ex. We could all celebrate holidays and birthdays together, giving the kids a sense of normalcy. We even began exchanging Christmas presents. Heather and my ex would even watch my dog when I was out of town.

Heather, seen with me and my daughter in the fall of 2020, was a blessing in our lives.

When Heather was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer about five years ago, the devastating reality smacked us. I knew what was in store for our beautifully broken and blended family. My kids and ex were beginning a gut-wrenching journey that would only end in heartbreak. And while Heather fought it with everything in her, her cancer was too far gone.

I sent Heather a card as she began wrapping up her affairs. I wrote, "I never thought I would be so fond of my ex-husband's girlfriend." I shared all the things I appreciated her for and let her know that I, too, cared deeply for her. Heather wrote me a lovely card back, which broke me. I still have it on a bookshelf. I look at it every so often if I need a good, cathartic cry.

Heather's passing almost three years ago was one of the most devastating moments of my life. My children were crushed. And I couldn't fix it. Not only were my ex and my kids heartbroken, but I was, too.

Heather was family and a friend to me. She was another adult to love and care for my babies. She was an amazing, smart, loving and beautiful soul. At her celebration of life, I felt compelled to speak about what a wonderful human she was.

Which I know is not the norm.

Maybe this all sounds insane. Like the relationship between Evelyn and Taryn.

But I truly believe strange situations can sometimes blossom into something beautiful. When it does, it feels perfect, realistic and right and has a special place in our hearts.

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Hi, readers! I’m S. Jennifer Paulson, a former journalist who has been pecking away at my debut novel for years. You know, in between work, helping my husband with his business, grad school and being a wife and mom. So, I’ll be sharing about the writing journey, as well as musings on everyday life — and the things going on around us — from the world of books to beyond. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on my journey to publishing my first book. It’s gonna be an interesting ride.

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