How To Make A Friend, by Fleur Smithwick

How To Make A Friend, by Fleur Smithwick

How To Make A Friend is, at its heart, a cautionary tale. Alice is a lonely child, very much the youngest in her family and overlooked by her siblings, her absent father and her narcissistic mother. Filling the gaps in her life is Sam, her imaginary friend who can be relied upon to say the right thing, play the games she wants to play, and be there whenever she needs him.

Following the evocative prologue, in which we are introduced to the young Alice and Sam, the first chapter plunges us into the present. The scene is Alice’s father’s wedding day. Alice, now a beautiful and accomplished photographer, is fretting about being late. Her best friend, Rory, calms her down but the stresses of day (family, expectations, the presence of Rory’s brother Jonathan with his latest girlfriend, and some degree of latent aggression among the guests) combine to stop her from relaxing completely. Alice is also the evening’s designated driver, having promised to take Rory and his partner, Daniel, back to London that night, as they have a christening to attend the next day. The day isn’t going to end well, though, and by the following morning, Sam – long absent – has found a way back into Alice’s mind.

This first chapter is a touch confusing, with so many names being introduced, but stick with it. Everyone has a part to play in this beautifully taut story. It turns out that Sam can only exist when Alice is unhappy. At first, she welcomes his return as she struggles to come to terms with Rory’s death: although he is invisible to the wider world, he is tangible to Alice, and a reassuring presence in an upturned world. He’s not as easy to manage as an adult as he was as a child, though, and those surrounding her become increasingly worried about her mental state as arguments and tensions between her and Sam spill over into the ‘real’ world.

It is when Alice makes tentative forays back to normality, going out on a date, that Sam becomes first agitated and even threatening. And this means that Jonathan – Alice’s first and only love, and not as indifferent to her as his engagement would suggest – is in Sam’s firing line.

How To Make A Friend is a tense and engaging read. The relationship between Alice and Sam is utterly believable, and the twists and turns of this immaculately plotted story will keep surprising you right to the end.


You can find Fleur on Twitter here.

And when you’ve read and enjoyed How To Make A Friend, do take a moment to post a review on Amazon by going here, clicking on ‘Customer Reviews’ and then on the box for ‘Write a Customer Review’. You don’t have to have bought the book through Amazon to leave a review, and you don’t have to write an essay either! A star rating and a few words will mean a lot to the author 🙂


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