Monday, October 2, 2017

Friend Request ~ Laura Marshall (earc) review [@laurajm8 @GrandCentralPub]

Friend Request
Grand Central Publishing
September 05, 2017
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

A paranoid single mom is forced to confront the unthinkable act she committed as a desperate teenager in this addictive thriller with a social media twist.

Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn't she?

1989. 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. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria's sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she'd severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there's more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what's known to Maria--or whoever's pretending to be her--is known to all.

I loved how many times I was wrong about what was happening  (or had happened) in Friend Request -- either  just a little bit off or absolutely, completely incorrect. In her debut novel, author Laura Marshall does a great job building a mystery and leading readers astray before, ultimately giving us a satisfying ending.

The story alternates between 1090 and 2016, between Louise's last year of school and her current life as the divorced mother of a four-year-old son. Most of the past sections of the novel (in 1989( are in the past tense while most of the present day is in present tense, it really pulls readers more into the tale and helps differentiate between past and present. It separates the two timelines well.

There were small vignettes between some chapters and I very much enjoyed that they were in the third person and that you did not know, for sure, which character is the 'her.' Not knowing who these thoughts and facts belong to means you don't know quite a few things about the direction of the story, either. It's fantastic.

The author does a great job mixing Louise's daily life - caring for Henry, all that's required of her now without a partner, her work as an interior designer - with not only the old guilt reawakened by the message from Maria, but the new confusion, fear, and (new, additional) guilt that the message cause. You see Louise struggling to hold onto her life - whether it was all that great or not -- but also to, maybe, finally, cope with what she did all those years ago.

There are times Louise is frustrating, more than once that you (and often she) will wish she could have made a different decision, and plenty of times you will question the motives or intentions of others but it all, somehow, ends up making perfect sense. You do not see things coming - or you see ones that aren't really - but nothing makes you side eye the characters or story when it all comes together.

Friend Request was a satisfying, thrilling mystery full of twists, turns and surprises that portrayed both teenage Louise and divorced, forty-something-year-old mother Louise realistically. (Though it may make you think any Facebook activity.) Laura Marshall is an author I hope to read more form in the future.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

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