Friend Request asks us to consider- how well do we really know someone? Especially in the age of social media. Louise Williams is a divorced mom and interior designer living in London, and she has a secret- something that only a few people know about, going back to her high school years. We all know high school is formative and fraught with obstacles to acceptance for some kids- and Louise was one of those kids. She wasn't popular but she wasn't at the bottom of the social hierarchy either, and when Sophie Hannigan deigned to hang around with her, she was on the cusp of getting into the "in" crowd. But Sophie's friendship came with a price- how far would Louise go to fit in?
Twenty- five years later Louise is still carrying around the guilt of what she did. The story is set in both the modern day and in 1989- the year something happened to Maria Weston, the new girl at school. Maria and Louise hit it off early, but soon Louise has to choose between Maria and Sophie. It's a hard choice, as Louise desperately wants to be accepted by Sophie, and by extension the other cool girls. And of course Sophie takes full advantage of that. I think anyone who's been through high school can probably relate to at least something here. Louise knows what she's doing is wrong, but she can't stop herself.
The kicker is when Louise gets a friend request on Facebook- from Maria Weston. But Maria died twenty- five years ago, didn't she? Louise remembers the night Maria went missing, and her body was never found, but everyone has assumed that she died. Someone, however, is on Facebook, and as the story goes on Louise continues to get eerie messages, and feels like she's being stalked. She's not the only one- Sophie is also contacted. And with the high school reunion coming up, old secrets are being dredged out again.
This was a page turner for me, in spite of the fact that it was kinda slow. Not necessarily in a bad way- it's just not action-packed or fast-paced, but I enjoyed it. The author takes her time getting into Louise's head, and we get to know the people around her, including her ex- husband Sam and some of the people from school- Sophie and Esther, another former friend and classmate. People change after high school, some more than others, but no matter how much time goes by, do we ever really get over the wounds that are caused, or the triumphs or defeats of our social group?
That plays a large role in the story. Memories, regrets, and the consequences of things we did in high school. It really makes you think how vulnerable people are in the age of Facebook and social media, where so much of our lives are accessible online. I loved the reunion and the author shows us the excitement and terror as she navigates the old minefields. Later in the story things start to get a little out there, maybe a bit unrealistic, but the central theme is the same. Can you really trust anyone other than yourself? Old friends, ex- lovers, enemies- you never really know what somebody thinks, deep down. There were some nice twists, some misdirection, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A very nice debut also.