Susan Mallery’s ‘The Friendship List’ [EXCERPT]

Beach umbrella
Checking off a fun to-do list with your BFF should be fun, shouldn’t it? (Photo courtesy Canva)

We’ve all heard of a bucket list. You may even have started one of your own. But have you ever created a to-do list for you and a buddy? It’s what the two best gal pals do in Susan Mallery’s hilariously heartfelt new novel, The Friendship List. So for all of you dynamic duos out there, the BFFs who would move heaven and earth for one another, this one’s for you. We hope you have fun reading this exclusive excerpt from the book. Enjoy! —J&H

Since moving to Willowbrook, he’d started taking a group of his athletes on a tour of West Coast colleges. The students spent the school year raising money to pay for gas, hotels rooms and food. Keith made appointments with the various colleges the students were interested in. The trips were about two weeks long, with a few fun stops along the way. This year’s students had decided they wanted to spend an afternoon on the beach in Santa Monica, a day in Disneyland and a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They’d raised enough money and Keith always let them plan the agenda. They would visit a half dozen colleges, see the West Coast and, for many of his students, leave the state for the first time.

“You excited about the trip?” he asked.

Ellen smiled at him. “Excited is strong, but I’m happy to be the bus mom.”

It would be her first time joining him, but with Coop going, she’d volunteered. He was bringing Lissa.

“Too bad it’s only guys,” he said. “I think Lissa would have liked a couple of girls along.”

He always had more students apply than he could manage. In November, he held a drawing with twelve students chosen at random. This year both of the female students who had won a slot had dropped out.


“She’ll have me,” Ellen said. “Plus Coop’s like her brother. And all the guys are scared of you, so no one will bother her.”

“Damn straight they’re scared of me,” he grumbled. “If I catch any of them with my daughter, I will let my fists do the talking.”

She tsked. “Violence? Is that the best you can come up with?”

“When it comes to Lissa, yes.”

They finished dinner and talked for another hour before he helped her clean up. Close to eight, she walked him to the front door.

“Thanks for listening,” he said, hugging her.

“Thanks for the info on Stanford. I’ll sleep easier tonight knowing I just might be able to pay for college.”

She looked up at him as she spoke. As always, her bangs were too long, almost touching her big eyes. She looked impossibly young—as if there was no way she could have a seventeen-year-old son. Only she’d been Lissa’s age when she’d gotten pregnant.

“You did a great job with your kid,” he told her.

“Thank you. Back at you.”

“Yeah, but I wasn’t still in high school when she was born. And I had a wife.”

“I had my parents.”

“Hey, I’m trying to pay you a compliment here.”

“Sorry.” She smiled. “Thank you, Coach Kinne.”

“You’re welcome, Ms. Fox.”

She laughed. “See you tomorrow.”


He walked toward his extended cab truck. Despite the hour, the sun still hadn’t set. This time of year, there was a ridiculous amount of daylight in the Pacific Northwest.

As he got behind the wheel, he glanced at the duplex where Ellen lived. She’d told him how when her parents had sold their house and moved to Palm Desert to retire, they’d given her enough money for a down payment on a house. She’d impressed them by buying a duplex instead, so she would have steady income to help her pay down the mortgage.

She’d confessed that she would have preferred a single-family home, but she’d known the duplex was the smarter decision. That was Ellen—always sensible and doing the right thing. She was a good friend, one he could depend on. In some ways, not counting Lissa, Ellen was the best relationship he’d ever had.

“Peter, my youngest, called last night,” Howard said, as he checked his toolbox. “His divorce is final. Maybe you’d like to meet him.”

Unity Leandre stared at the big dry-erase board mounted on the wall of her garage. It was divided into five columns, one for each day of the week. The jobs were listed on the day they would be done, with an arrival time next to them. Every morning she went over the jobs with her team and decided who would do what and how long it should take.

“She doesn’t want to go out with Peter,” Jerry said. “He’s what? In his forties?”


“That’s too old for her. How old are you, Unity?”


“See?” Jerry sounded triumphant. “That’s too big an age difference. Plus Peter lives in Bellingham. The drive would be at least three hours, maybe four.”

“He’s a good guy,” Howard insisted. “An entrepreneur.”

“He owns a yard mowing service.”

“It’s a landscaping company. They’d have a lot in common.”

Jerry snorted. “Leave the girl alone. She’ll find the right guy on her own. She doesn’t need us butting into her business.”

“I’m not butting, I’m offering to help. Unity, am I butting in?”

Unity put Howard’s initials next to the backed-up drain and Jerry’s by the new shower fixture.

Only then did she turn toward the two seventysomething men who worked for her—part-time, of course. Because being retired didn’t mean a person wasn’t busy. Something she’d learned in the past three years. She had a team of five men working for her—all well over the age of sixty-five, all good at their jobs. Sure, there were times when they couldn’t move as fast as someone younger, but they were skilled, careful and thorough. She would rather the job took a little longer, but was done right. Besides, most of her clients were at the Silver Pines retirement community, so they appreciated having handymen of a certain age around. As for Howard’s youngest and his recent divorce, just no.

She smiled. “You’re not butting, Howard, but I’m also not interested.”

“You haven’t met him yet. What if he’s everything you’ve been looking for?”

Unity shook her head. Three-plus years after Stuart’s death, she wasn’t the least bit interested in finding a replacement.

“I’m sure he’s wonderful,” she said kindly. “Just not for me.”

“It’s because he’s too old, right?” Jerry asked hopefully. He turned to Howard. “I told you to stop butting in.”

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Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever…

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache and regrettable tattoos.

Susan Mallery
Susan Mallery
(Photo by Annie Brady)


Susan Mallery is the number one New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom. Visit Susan online at, like her on Facebook, and follow her on TwitterPinterestGoodreadsInstagramBookBub, and Amazon.

By Susan Mallery
384 pp. HQN. $26.99

Preorder The Friendship List direct from Jathan & Heather’s Beach Reads Book Shop or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Harlequin, IndieBound, or Powell’s.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Susan Mallery’s ‘The Friendship List’ [EXCERPT]

  1. Pingback: Susan Mallery, author of THE FRIENDSHIP LIST, on tour July/August 2020 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Sara Strand says:

    Thank you for featuring this, Susan Mallery is one of my favorites! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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