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.
Anyone can be anyone on Facebook. It’s easy to hide behind a faceless page on the internet.
Friend Request marks Laura Marshall’s literary debut. It is a well-conceived and decently written psychological thriller with a very enticing and thought-provoking premise: Louise, the protagonist and the narrator of most of the chapters comprising this book, is a single mom of a little boy, Henry, and a successful interior designer who receives an unexpected Facebook friend request from Maria Weston, a girl who disappeared more than 25 years ago and has been presumed dead ever since. Maria started to attend the same high school as Louise during the senior year and the two were initially friendly towards one another. Different rumors about Maria’s experience at her old school in London began to circulate among the students and Louise, influenced by her popular friend, Sophie, distanced herself from Maria and took part in harassing her. Louise and her friends plotted something meant to embarass Maria publicly on the occasion of the leavers’ party which coincided with the night she vanished under mysterious circumstances. Haunted by the past, Louise has been living under the impression that she was responsible for Maria’s death.
The story is told in alternate timelines: on the one hand, we are witnessing Louise’s present increasing paranoia caused by the frightening idea that Maria might actually be alive and she seeks revenge; on the other hand, we learn about the events that took place in 1989 and concluded with Maria’s disappearance.
It’s been a while since I read a psychological thriller that captivated me from beginning to end. Needless to say, Friend Request is highly suspenseful and no character can be trusted. I had my theories regarding the culprit’s identity but, as expected, none of them proved correct or at least closer to the truth. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the denouement, given that the gradual build-up of suspense throughout the book was excellently executed. Nevertheless, it seemed realistic and plausible, which is a real plus point.
The social media aspect of the novel announced in the blurb wasn’t as articulate as I would’ve expected, but I didn’t necessarily mind that. Friend Request approached other important matters, such as school bullying and how the unpopular teenagers grow to behave uncharacteristically because they crave the popular students’ attention.
That being said, Friend Request is definitely a page-turner and I highly recommend it to the fans of mysteries/psychological thrillers. I am looking forward to reading Laura Marshall’s future releases!