The Best Thing I Never Had Blog Tour – Team Leigha or Team Harriet?

ErinErin Lawless talks about her main characters.

The Best Thing I Never Had is the new novel from author, Erin Lawless. It’s published by Harper Impulse and was released in March. We are delighted to welcome Erin to Novel Kicks today as part of her blog tour for her new book and we ask the question, who’s side are you on?

I’m asked quite a lot: #TeamHarriet or #TeamLeigha?

Most people find it quite straight forward. “Team Harriet!” they cry. “Who would ever be on Team Leigha??” My editor at Harper is, I answer with a smile. “But Leigha is such a BITCH!” they answer, appalled. Indeed she is, but then again, Harriet is a selfish idiot whose actions cause a hell of a lot of drama, so why should she be championed over her brittle best friend? #TeamDemi, I usually say, avoiding the question entirely – he’s the only halfway decent character in the whole book!

One of my all-time favourite reviews of Best Thing states that “when a writer can make you feel sorry for the novel’s antagonist, she has great talent”. The novel’s antagonist is undoubtedly Leigha, but that’s not the same as saying she’s “the bad guy”. Leigha hurts, and is hurt in return. A brittle, nervy over-achiever from a broken home, an erstwhile ugly ducking who has been suffering under the weight of unrequited love for as long as she can remember – the now gorgeous, popular Leigha seems from the outside to have everything she wants. Unfortunately, the only thing she ever wanted was something she could never have. And she’s just coming to terms with it all when the same scenario hits her again – bam! She’s left reeling and lashing out. Leigha’s no monster; she’s someone who deserves your pity.

I imagine a lot of it is down to the reader’s personal experience. If you’ve suffered a bully, or the torment of a false friend, you’re never going to be sympathetic towards Leigha. If you see shades of someone who once caused you pain in her, you are never going to agree that she has cause for the way that she reacts. I’ve had lots of messages from readers telling me about “their personal Leigha” and how difficult that was for them. These people are decidedly Team Harriet.

best thing I never hadBut, I would argue: it’s all Harriet’s fault, isn’t it? She’s an ostrich with her head in the sand, too milksop to make a decision and that failure to act fractures the lives of an entire group of people. She knows how her best friend feels about the man she is secretly sleeping with. “I just wanted to shake Harriet!” say some reviewers. “She should have just stood up for herself.” These people are invariably not the same as those who suffered under the “personal Leighas”. After all, there would be no bullies at all if extricating yourself from these situations was that easy.

“I think the real love story being told here is the one between Leigha and Harriet,” one astute reviewer once noted. “Watching their beautiful friendship disintegrate broke my heart.” I would never want a reader to enter the book prepared to hate Leigha, or to despair of Harriet. There is no heroine here, just as there is no bad guy. They are both just people, with flaws and weaknesses, as are the other five protagonists who help tell the group’s story. Try to remember that, and stay ‘teamless’ – at least for as long as possible!

Because sometimes it’s not possible to stay on the fence; if pressed, I can’t help but be a romantic, and declare my allegiance to Team Harriet!


Follow Erin on Twitter.

Erin’s Website.

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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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