Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

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booksaremyfavouriteandbest

01. The Melbourne Writers Festival 2017 program was launched this week. I’m excited about Heather Rose, Jennifer Down, Christine Kenneally, Tracy Chevalier and Maxine Beneba Clarke. Also: Grenville, Tsiolkas, Laguna, Krien, Joosten. It’s going to be a busy ten days.

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Friend Request by Laura Marshall

If you are not already cautious in your use of social media, you probably will be after reading this novel …..

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

‘Anyone can be anyone on Facebook. It’s easy to hide behind a faceless page on the internet.’

It’s 2016, and Louise Williams receives an eMail: ‘Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.’ But Louise died, didn’t she, back in 1989?  At a school leavers party.  The request brings back memories for Louise, memories of a time when she and Maria were becoming friends.  Before Louise made a series of choices, which have haunted her ever since.

‘But there are no actions without consequences, are there?’

Louise is now divorced.  She’s juggling parenting her son Henry with an interior design business that she manages from home.  Her business is successful, Henry is adorable and her ex, Sam shares the parenting.

The Facebook friend request sends Louise back into a past which she thought was safely buried in the past.  Louise has a number of guilty secrets which she desperately wants to keep hidden, but she can’t ignore the friend request.  So, with the help of Facebook, Louise connects with Sophie –  one of the popular girls she chose to be with (instead of Maria).

This is the beginning of a fast-paced novel, with some twists and red herrings, all designed to keep you reading (and guessing) as the story unfolds.  The cruelty of teenagers, the fragility of their relationships, the ease with which they select and bully others: I really disliked some of these teenagers.  And as adults?

What really happened to Maria Weston?  By the end of the novel you’ll know, and quite possibly you’ll be surprised.  I was.

‘I should know better than anyone that things aren’t always what they seem.’

This is an accomplished debut novel.  Ms Marshall maintains the tension throughout, and while some of the twists jarred, the story is frighteningly believable.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith