Despite having read quite a few books already this year this is the first one ticked off my 2018 reading list.
Friend Request by Laura Marshall follows the life of a single mum called Louise that has lived with a terrible secret since her high school days. This secret has weighed down on her shoulders since she was 16 years old and has had a major influence over her life choices even as she gets close to middle age. We find her in 2016 dealing with issues of co-parenting as she still appears to have feelings for her ex husband when she receives a Facebook request that sends her back to 1989. Maria has sent a friend request but how can that be when Maria has been dead for 27 years?
This is the type of thriller I really enjoy because the overall storyline is simple and easy to follow but continues to add layers and twists and turns along the way. It kept me on my toes as I kept trying to work out what really happened. We are given the impression right from the off that Louise clearly had something to do with Maria’s disappearance but I personally never thought she was as responsible as she made herself feel. You knew there was something missing, you just had to find out what.
Reading it brought back memories of being 16 years old and the pressures that come with it. Although I personally never found myself in situations that involved bullying while at school I was able to understand just how difficult school can be. This made the characters feel much more believable because everyone knows someone that was in one of these situations, whether it be the bully, the popular girl, the quiet one or the tag along. I really felt for Louise as the story progressed due to the obvious guilt she still feels and the extreme lack of confidence she has continued to have through to her adult life.
Something I really like about this book was the supporting characters like Maria, Esther and even little Henry. Due to the fact that you get to keep jumping back to 1989 you are given a chance to explore these characters a bit more. It was interesting to find out who Maria was after being told she has been dead and I loved getting a chance to see the teenage versions of Louise and the other schoolgirls as this helped make their decisions and reactions to their current situation more believable. Having this also made me more suspicious of some of these characters in 2016 because I often found myself trying to work out if they were in fact behind the strange friend request.
I loved the fact that even up until near the end you still have a feeling that you are going to find out more about what happened on that night in 1989.
At some points I felt that the story could have been shortened slightly but overall I enjoyed the divide between 1989 and 2016 and found the characters believable. I felt that the reveal was a bit out there but again due to the character development that had been done throughout it didn’t feel completely unlikely.