Review // I Had Such Friends

I Had Such Friends
Author: Meg Gatland-Veness
Published: August 2018
Publisher: Pantera Press
Readership: Young Adult #loveozya
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: ★★★.5
RRP: $19.99 AUD

I received a copy of I Had Such Friends from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When Charlie Parker dies, it affects everyone who knew him. Everyone, that is, except for seventeen-year-old Hamish Day, the boy who lives on a cabbage farm and only has one friend. But Hamish soon finds himself pulled into the complicated lives of the people left behind. Among them is Annie Bower, the prettiest girl ins school. As he uncovers startling truths about his peers, his perspectives on friendship, love, grief and the tragic power of silence are forever altered.

Meg’s own teaching experience has enabled her to delve deeper into the true nature of a universal high school experience. I Had Such Friends will speak to high school students/teenagers on a personal level, and foster important conversations among Australian youth, school and family culture on issues including abuse, failure and neglect.

With hard-hitting themes including unrequited love, abuse, neglect, sexuality, bullying, prejudice, death and suicide, I Had Such Friends is a poignant journey of self-discovery, grief and the tragic power of silence. A gripping look at adolescent pain with a narrative maturity that accurately reflects its YA milieu, I Had Such Friends resonates with young adult audiences and pushes them to reflect on their own ‘sliding doors’ moment.

I Had Such Friends is a solid look at what it means to be a teenager in a small town, where everyone knows everything about everyone. Or so they think.

After the unexpected, accidental death of the most popular boy, in school, Charlie, Hamish discovers that not everything he thought he knew about school is as it seems, and that friendships can shift quickly as he is drawn into the lives of the people who knew Charlie the best.

Hamish has never been the popular kid, and at worst, has been picked on his entire school career. He’s learnt how to fade into the background and has only one friend – a friendship that’s more convenience than actual bond – and suddenly he’s thrown in these new social circumstances, learning to navigate what is essentially uncharted territory for him. He feels like a teenager – he’s got a lot on his mind, a lot of opinions, and not many outlets to vent them.

It’s a book that deals with bullying, neglect, death, sexuality and suicide, and the impact that all of these things (especially combined) can have on a young person. This is a book that will strike a chord with many young people – it’s relatable, honest and raw, and that’s a hard combination to find in young adult contemporary books.

I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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