‘Bye, Baby’: a tragic tale of jealousy and friendship

The cover of “Bye, Baby,” by Carola Lovering. (OSV News photo/Macmillan Publishers)

“Bye, Baby”
Carola Lovering, St. Martin’s Press (2024)
352 pages, $19.99

The seven deadly sins hold an allure for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The traditional list — pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth — paint the picture of the most evil of characters who pursue their own carnal desires not caring who is destroyed along the way. In her latest novel, Carola Lovering explores what happens when ordinary jealousy spirals out of control among two lifelong friends.

“Bye, Baby” is the story of Billie West and Cassie Barnwell, two friends in their mid-thirties who are living in New York City after growing up together in the suburbs. Despite growing up together and keeping each other’s darkest secrets, the friends are starting to grow apart with their new adult lives. Cassie, the outgoing, slightly rambunctious one of the pair, married a man with familial wealth who supports her boutique clothing brand and social media influencer lifestyle while also being a model father to their infant daughter. Meanwhile, Billie is just happy that she finally has her own apartment and is dating a man who seems to be a good fit.

The novel’s point of view switches between Billie and Cassie’s life now as adults and snapshots of their friendship as they were growing up together. The reader sees that their relationship has never been carried equally between them, as Cassie has always been the driving force behind anything they’ve ever done. Billie has always just been along for the ride, whether it is to visit Cassie’s estranged grandmother or to spring break with Cassie’s boyfriend.

When they got to college, Cassie and Billie started growing apart as Cassie attempted to infiltrate a clique that was interested in partying and outward appearances, things that Billie, paying her own way through college, wasn’t interested in. This was the beginning of their growing apart as friends, as Cassie’s college connections gave her inside access to the New York social scene and upward mobility where Billie was not welcome.

The unthinkable happens when Cassie’s husband, Grant, throws her an extravagant birthday party in their penthouse apartment, complete with bartenders and a DJ. Billie finds herself in Cassie and Grant’s building when she is stopping by to feed a co-worker’s cat and she discovers that her greatest fear is confirmed: she has become so estranged from her best friend that she hasn’t even been invited to her birthday party. Filled with envy, Billie acts without thinking and makes a decision that will impact her and Cassie for the rest of their lives.

“Bye, Baby” is a fast-paced story of an unhealthy friendship built upon a sense of competition and jealousy as it unfolds over the course of several decades. While some readers may be shocked by the major plot twist that takes place right in the middle of the novel, others will see it as the natural result of a relationship that has been infiltrated by envy. For it is true that the seven deadly sins are just that — deadly — because they kill the desire in our hearts to do what is right and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a lesson made manifest in Lovering’s novel.


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