Friends like These by Sarah Alderson is a book that I picked up in my local library in Deansgrange. It was not a book that had been recommended to me. It was simply a book that sounded interesting based on the back cover. Can you go wrong? Yes, in fact you can. I can’t remember at what stage of the book I became disinterested but I’m not one to give up and I persisted until the end, optimistically thinking that it might turn itself around. It didn’t.
Friends like These takes off with a seemingly interesting, if slightly dramatic, storyline. The opening chapter is an excerpt of a 999 call. What could be happening? Who is involved? Who is in danger?
The author creates two main female characters in Friends like These. Her approach, like many authors, focuses on creating two personas with conflicting characteristics. Lizzie is a quiet girl who reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant. Becca is the office beauty turned “crazy lady”, reminding me of The Girl on the Train storyline. After years of estrangement, the girls’ lives become intertwined thanks to modern-day social media. After Becca causes Lizzie to lose her job, Lizzie takes it upon herself to find out why Becca “disappeared” after an accident and why she seems to have created a false life online. In today’s speak, one could say that Becca is a catfish.
Like the best of us, Lizzie loves a good social media stalk. On this particular night, Lizzie cracks open a bottle of win and focuses on her old colleague, Becca, whom she hasn’t seen in years. To Lizzie, the life that Becca portrays online is perfect but she soon finds out that it is the perfect lie rather than the perfect life. At present, Instagram are trialing hiding the total number of likes and video views for some people across the world, Ireland included. I like to think this trial will remind people that social media is typically a highlight reel and the number of likes shouldn’t dictate how people feel about themselves or about others. Lizzie certainly got sucked into the “fake news” of social media. Appearance versus reality is a strong theme of Friends like These.
Friends like These by Sarah Alderson was the eleventh book that I read in 2019 as part of my reading challenge whereby I am aiming to read 25 books by the end of the year. I admire the author for writing the book. It’s more than what I have ever written. However, I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy the book and feel it would have been better had the storyline, particularly the ending, been less dramatic. That’s my opinion, others have loved it. That’s the beautiful reality of reading, everyone interprets books differently.