Thank you to Little, Brown and my local public library for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha (listed in alphabetical order out of fairness) have been friends since kindergarten. Now they're in their senior year, facing their biggest fears about growing up and growing apart. But there's more than just college on the horizon. One of these girls is destined to become the president of the United States. The mystery, of course, is which girl gets the gig.
Is it Ava, the picture-perfect artist who's secretly struggling to figure out where she belongs? Or could it be CJ, the one who's got everything figured out...except how to fix her terrible SAT scores? Maybe it's Jordan, the group's resident journalist, who knows she's ready for more than their small Ohio suburb can offer. And don't overlook Martha, who will have to overcome all the obstacles that stand in the way of her dreams.
This is the story of four best friends who have one another's backs through every new love, breakup, stumble, and success--proving that great friendships can help young women achieve anything... even a seat in the Oval Office.
I am convinced that Sarah Watson brings the same warm energy to each of her projects, and I eagerly await the next one. Most Likely is her debut novel, but it shares the same focus on female friendship, advocacy, and fun that made The Bold Type—her hit TV show—a fan favorite. Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha “(listed in alphabetical order for fairness)” (a quirk I love) remind me so much of Kat, Jane, and Sullivan in a delightful way.
The friendship between the girls is the crux of the novel, which shifts perspective often to portray each of them. This is to great advantage, and they were all well-developed and distinct characters. I could see the similarities in the group dynamic between Most Likely and The Bold Type, so if you’re a fan of one, you’ll enjoy the other. I think Watson has a unique approach to developing bonds between friends, so that even though I did have a favorite character (Ava), the whole group dynamic made a mark on my reading experience.
All of these girls come together in a truly heartwarming way to support each other, even when it might hurt. They deal with the fact that life doesn’t come equally to all of them, and manage to rise above deep challenges. I love it. Girls supporting girls is exactly what we need, and Watson nails it. The blurb says it all: “great friendships can help young women achieve anything… even a seat in the Oval Office.”
They all make mistakes, some smaller than others, but they’re there to lift each other up with forgiveness and lessons for the next time. It’s so great to see that go unchallenged in a novel. I’m glad Most Likely takes this friendship as a constant positive, rather than something that’s up in the air. Yeah, I’m spoiling that. I think readers need to know going in that this novel doesn’t twist friendship, and that even when these girls fight, or something’s unequal between them, they know they’ve been friends since the 9th of August before they started kindergarten, and that bond's not going anywhere. Most Likely is a novel about friendship, but it’s about the joys of having best friends, not the struggle.
The backdrop for the whole novel is set by the prologue, which introduces one of the girls and her husband right before her inauguration ceremony as President of the United States. The only information given is the (admittedly unique) last name of the husband. This aspect kept me guessing throughout the whole novel, because each of the girls had moments in which I could clearly see them as being the “I” voice in that prologue. Given more effort, I probably could have guessed which one of them became President, but as it is, I was happy just going along for the ride. The reader only knows that one of the girls is going to end up married to a man with that last name, and the story unfolds from there. This was a fun way to frame the novel, and kept me on the hook because I knew all would be revealed in the end, and I wanted to get there! I was so curious in the beginning about Madam future President’s identity, but as I kept reading, I wondered more and more about the path she’d take to get there, no matter which girl it was.
Most Likely also does a deep dive into contemporary concerns, specifically disability advocacy and classism. CJ learns about bias and how to channel her activism energy when she starts to volunteer at an after school sports program for kids using wheelchairs, and all of the girls work together to fight a neighborhood park being razed for an office building while dealing with judgment (inside the group and outside) against the surrounding neighborhood, which is seen as “less than” because its residents aren’t wealthy.
Overall, Most Likely is a delightful debut novel involving the power of female friendship and local activism, that has more than earned its place on your shelf. 4/5 stars. Watch out for Sarah Watson: first The Bold Type, and now Most Likely—she’s on a roll. If it wasn’t clear, I’m an avid fan, and can’t wait to see what she does next!
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.
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