A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Friend Request by Laura Marshall- Feature and Review


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.



Friend RequestFriend Request by Laura Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Friend Request by Laura Marshall is a 2017 Grand Central publication.

“That night was the end of everything, and the beginning. The end of something is always the start of something else, even if you can’t see it at the time.”

Facebook. UGH! I have to say, I do use the social media network more than I care to admit, which is why the title of this book grabbed my attention, mainly because I have been dealing with a spate of weird friend request recently, and they always creep me out.

In this case, though, Louise receives a friend request from a girl she went to high school with. Common enough, right? Sure, except this girl, ‘Maria Weston’ vanished on Prom night way back in 1989, and has been presumed dead. So, I’d say Maria wins the award for the creepiest Facebook request, ever.

Was this someone’s idea of a sick joke or something far more sinister? Well, it would seem Louise, and her group of friends back in high school, may have, in some way, been complicit in Maria’s death.

So, besides just being plain ghoulish, it the request could also have a menacing tone. Is it possible Maria is still alive or could there be someone out there seeking revenge?

As her class reunion approaches, Louise’s thoughts flashback to 1989 and the events that led up to that tragic night, while in the present day she becomes convinced her life may in be real danger.

This story deals with the aftermath of a tragic, and presumably, the untimely death of a high school girl, the details of which are sketchy, which is why most of the characters are suspect, in one way or the other, and is the source of all the tension that situation generates.

Yet, there are other prevalent themes running throughout, with the spotlight shining on the mistreatment of classmates, the intense desire to belong and be accepted, especially as teenagers.

Girls, in particular, can wield their own special brand of subtle torment. That part never changes, no matter if it is 1989 or 2017, as you will see. However, I would hope those who may have held court in their high school fiefdoms, feels the level of regret Louise does.

The other very timely theme explores our use of social media and the many ways we can lurk around other people’s lives, spying on their current relationships, jobs, hobbies and other friends. Looking at it from that prospective, it feels a little unnerving, knowing that sometimes people are lurking around your page and can access a wealth of information about you, quite easily.

Not only that, who among you can honestly say you haven’t lurked around on someone’s social media page at one time or another?

This story might make you think about the way you treat others, remind you of what it was like to be a teenager, or when your kids went through those periods of angst, and how both parents and children can be scarred from it, for many years to come, even if it is a more sophisticated form of bullying, it is equally dangerous and psychologically damaging.

Although I spent some time discussing these social issues, they are underlying themes the book is based upon. But, I assure you, the story is all thrills, chills, and psychological suspense from start to finish, with some real nail biting scenes and plenty of surprise twists along the way.

Overall, this is a clever psychological thriller, written with precision pacing, well timed revelations and is very appropriate to the time we live in. Fans of PT's will want to give this one a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.





Laura Marshall grew up in Wiltshire and studied English at the University of Sussex.
After almost twenty years working in conference production, in 2015 Laura decided it was time to fulfil a lifetime's ambition to write a novel, and enrolled on the Curtis Brown Creative three month novel writing course.
Her first novel, Friend Request, was shortlisted for both the Bath Novel Award 2016 and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2016 and will be published by Little, Brown in the UK in 2017, as well as by Grand Central Publishing (Little, Brown) in the USA, Blanvalet (Random House) in Germany and Fleuve Editions (Univers Poche) in France.
Laura lives in Kent with her husband and two children.

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