I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Friend Request by Laura Marshall
Published by Grand Central Publishing on September 5, 2017
Source: the Publisher
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A GRIPPING, DEBUT PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER THAT PUTS A MODERN TWIST ON A CLASSIC CONCEIT.
When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren't. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Uncensored and unapologetic. Days into their acquaintance, Maria and Louise are quickly on their way to becoming fast friends.
Decades later, when Maria reaches out over social media, Louise's heart nearly stops. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface--those first days of their budding connection, the awful judgment of the young women who felt at the time like her sole gateway to belonging. The fateful, tragic night that would change all their lives forever.
Her entire adult life, Louise has known if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria's sudden reemergence threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she'd severed ties with to get away from the past. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there's much she didn't know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again--until now.
Louise Williams is a divorced mother who works from home as a freelance interior designer. She doesn’t have a lot of friends and devotes much of her life to 4-year old son Henry, living vicariously through the pictures and posts of her Facebook friends. Life’s fairly uneventful until she receives a friend request from Maria Weston, a girl from her high school days…she’s also been presumed dead for over 25 years. And, Louise has lived with the guilt of her role in what may have happened to Maria that fateful night she disappeared.
The story transitions between present day and 1989, that pivotal year when Louise’s life changed radically. Things lead to an upcoming high school reunion as the events of the past are slowly revealed. It was interesting how the challenges of teens two decades ago pretty much are the same today though the bullying methods are different with the introduction of social media. I struggled to have empathy for Louise because the choices she made at 16 years old seem to somewhat continue in the adult woman as she tries to figure out why she’s received a friend request from the dead teen. However, as the story progressed, I developed more understanding for her as she wasn’t a bad person, just someone who got caught up in her desire for acceptance.
The story is thought provoking in its attempt to contrast the human condition of teenagers and their adult selves and how those early behaviors shaped their life choices. Underlying all of that is the mystery of what happened to Maria, who’s behind the friend request and subsequent taunts. I had so many theories in play but none of them came close to the outcome, which was pretty chilling. The storytelling approach was effective, even though the pacing was a little slow. However, this was really very good for a debut novel.