Although they live on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Molly and Michèle have the type of close friendship that picks up right where they left off the last time they saw each other. As film critics turned film producers, the two see each other a few times a year at industry events and talk on the phone all the time. When Michèle gets a phone call that Molly has suffered an aneurism and is now in a deep coma, she’s distraught.
Months pass in which friends and family wait to see the full extent of the damage the aneurism caused. The longer Molly is in a coma, the less likely it is that she’ll have a positive prognosis. She finally does wake, but she’s just not the same.
Told in a series of letters from Michèle to Molly, Mon amie américaine explores the boundaries of friendship. Before the aneurism, Molly was the life of the party. In her work, she had the instincts and confidence to excel. These were things people loved about her. Michèle, though happily settled with her family, saw herself and Molly as equals who made different choices in life: if she had decided not to get married, she’d be living like Molly; if Molly had decided to get married, she’d be living like Michèle. Families aside, they were the same and that’s what made them click.
Now, as her letters to Molly slowly reveal, she’s not so sure. They start out tormented, with Michèle begging her Molly to wake up from the coma; she can’t live without her best friend. As time goes on and Michèle actually gets to spend time with this new Molly — the disabled Molly who seems to have woken up with a different personality — the foundation of their friendship begins to falter. Michèle feels like she can’t even share big moments in her personal life anymore; she caught her husband having an affair and no one to confide in. She feels guilty to admit it, especially with her friend in such a vulnerable position, but the friendship becomes a strain.
What are our responsibilities to the people we care about? How can two people with such a close bond lose the connection that once kept them so close? Mon amie américaine is a slim novel, but Halberstadt unflinchingly teases out the more fickle aspects of human nature and friendships to the very last page.
Mon amie américaine was released in April 2016 by Other Press.