**4.5 Goodreads Stars**
What if your entire life hinged on an irresponsible decision you made as a teenager? And what if you spent your entire life pushing everyone away in the hope that you can keep one life-changing decision secret, hidden from everyone but a select few who know what happened?
This is essentially the premise of Friend Request. The book follows the life of Louise, who, against her better instincts, desires to be part of the popular clique in high school as a teenager. To be part of this group, she is pressured to try drugs, drink alcohol, and change her looks. Sophie, beautiful and glamorous, is predictably the leader of the clique, and Louise wants nothing more than to be Sophie’s best friend and confidant.
To gain Sophie’s unfettered attention, Louise bullies girls who aren’t in the clique. One fateful night Louise, Sophie, and their male sidekicks, Matt and Sam, take things way too far.
The book picks up nearly 20 years later with Louise living a safe, solid middle- to upper-class life. Louise has divorced from Sam, one of the male clique members. She has cut ties with the clique, and the poor choices she made as a member of it. She has an adorable preschool-age son who she loves and cannot imagine life without. She will do anything to keep her son safe from her past discretions, especially when they begin to rise to the surface.
Louise’s tightly controlled world is upended when she receives a Facebook friend request from one of the girls she and her clique relentlessly teased: the friend who disappeared the night the clique’s prank went awry and was never found or seen again. This missing friend, Maria, knew (or knows?!) everything about Louise’s past sins, and threatens to unravel the quaint but comfortable life Louise enjoys with her 4 year old son.
I loved this book’s heart pounding plot. I also loved that this book raised philosophical questions about the emotional and physical turmoil of youth, both of which can painfully linger long after high school has ended. Can we escape who we were as teenagers, or will that period of life forever define us? Should someone (Louise) suffer eternal guilt for a horrible decision she made as a teenager?
Throughout the book, I kept second guessing the characters surrounding Louise and asking questions about the event that left Maria missing. Is Maria alive? What exactly happened the night of her disappearance?
Thank you to the author, Laura Marshall, NetGalley, and the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, for the advanced reader copy of this fantastic thriller!