Released: January 2015
Many of us probably had an imaginary friend as a child – someone to hang out with when we were lonely, someone to confide in when we couldn’t trust our peers, someone just for us. Usually these fantasy friends fade away as a child grows older, but this is not the case for How To Make A Friend’s protagonist.
Alice is a photographer with a happy, normal life until she has a horrific accident and spends three weeks in a coma. When she wakes up, her childhood friend, Sam, is back – although no one but Alice can see him. And as Alice relies on him for comfort, Sam gets stronger and stronger.
Fleur Smithwick’s first novel is brilliant, keeping you guessing until the very last page. Smithwick explores the boundaries between madness and sanity, logic and belief, to bring a story that twists and turns at every step and leads the reader to question whether Sam actually is real.
The character development is effortlessly deep and is vital to the tale, as the reader has to believe Alice is a reliable narrator in order to suspend our doubts and share her unusual experiences.
On top of all the supernatural happenings, two other storylines are woven through the fabric of the novel – how Alice’s troubled childhood leads to an imaginary friend, as well as her teenage crush sauntering back into her life, now engaged but just as enticing.
Smithwick has created a novel that almost has it all – love, loss, insanity, families, and cause for the reader to question reality.
My only major criticism is the cover and title of the novel, which have lead several people (including my friend and a random man on the train) to ask if it is a non-fiction psychology book about autism.
Despite this, How To Make A Friend is an easy and thought-provoking book to begin the New Year with.
How To Make A Friend will be published by Bantam Press on 29 Jan 2015.