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About The Book

From New York Times bestselling author Laura Taylor Namey comes a “lyrical and tender, authentic” (Kirkus Reviews) novel about friendship and the bittersweetness of growing up and growing apart.

When they were fifteen, Willa, Luz, and Britton’s friendship was everything.
When they were sixteen, they stood by each other no matter what.
When they were seventeen, they went through the worst.
And when they were eighteen, Willa ruined it all.

Now, it’s the week of graduation, and Willa is left with only a memory box filled with symbols of the friendship she destroyed: A book of pranks. Corsages from a nightmarish homecoming. A greasy pizza menu. Greeting cards with words that mean the world…

It’s enough to make Willa wonder how anything could tear her, Luz, and Britton apart. But as Willa revisits the moments when she and her friends leaned on each other, she can’t avoid the moments they leaned so hard their friendship began to crack.

As Willa tries to find a way back to Luz and Britton, she must confront the why of her betrayal, and answer a question she never saw coming: Who is she without them?

About The Author

Photograph by J. Chang-Tablada

Laura Taylor Namey is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of young adult fiction including Reese’s Book Club pick A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and TomorrowA British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and HeartbreakWhen We Were Them, and With Love, Echo Park. A proud Cuban American, she can be found hunting for vintage treasures and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two children. Visit her at

Why We Love It

“There are plenty of books about romantic breakups, but few capture the devastation of friendship breakup quite as well as When We Were Them. BFFs are supposed to be forever, after all—so what happens when forever isn’t as long as you thought it would be? And what do you do when the end of forever is all your fault? Laura Taylor Namey beautifully portrays the bittersweetness of growing up and growing apart as readers are left questioning, What did Willa do?”

—Alex B., Editor, on When We Were Them

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (November 16, 2021)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534471290
  • Ages: 12 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

"Namey’s prose is lyrical and tender, authentic in its portrayal of late teen angst and growth.... An intimate portrait of friendship at the cusp of adulthood."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Beautifully poignant.... A bittersweet story that will touch many hearts, especially as readers remember that time when their friends were everything. Hand to those who love Nina LaCour."

– Booklist

"Female relationships take center stage in Namey’s narrative about growing up, growing together, and, sometimes, growing apart."

– Publishers Weekly

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