Louise Williams is a divorced mother who works from home as a freelance interior designer. She doesn’t have a lot of friends and devotes much of her life to 4-year old son Henry, living vicariously through the pictures and posts of her Facebook friends. Life’s fairly uneventful until she receives a friend request from Maria Weston, a girl from her high school days…she’s also been presumed dead for over 25 years. And, Louise has lived with the guilt of her role in what may have happened to Maria that fateful night she disappeared.
The story transitions between present day and 1989, that pivotal year when Louise’s life changed radically. Things lead to an upcoming high school reunion as the events of the past are slowly revealed. It was interesting how the challenges of teens two decades ago pretty much are the same today though the bullying methods are different with the introduction of social media. I struggled to have empathy for Louise because the choices she made at 16 years old seem to somewhat continue in the adult woman as she tries to figure out why she’s received a friend request from the dead teen. However, as the story progressed, I developed more understanding for her as she wasn’t a bad person, just someone who got caught up in her desire for acceptance.
The story is thought provoking in its attempt to contrast the human condition of teenagers and their adult selves and how those early behaviors shaped their life choices. Underlying all of that is the mystery of what happened to Maria, who’s behind the friend request and subsequent taunts. I had so many theories in play but none of them came close to the outcome, which was pretty chilling. The storytelling approach was effective, even though the pacing was a little slow. However, this was really very good for a debut novel.
(I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)