I Had Such Friends
by Meg Gatland-Veness
Publication Date: August 1st 2018
Publisher: Pantera Press
Find This Book: I Had Such Friends
*I was given an eARC in exchange for an honest review
The book’s description includes warnings about: child abuse, neglect, sexual assault, bullying, prejudice, death, and suicide. This book covered some heavy topics, and I love that the back matter of the book included awareness messaging and information about suicide prevention organizations in Australia (where the book will be published). These seniors in high school go through a lot, and everyone is not as they seem (I know that’s a horror cliché but I really just mean that the one-dimensional stereotypes people present hide the complicated, multifaceted person they really are, and this book wandered that line in a creative way.
This novel dealt with identity both in an academic setting, as well as personal/sexual identity which I haven't seen very much. Our main character, Hamish, doesn't really know who he is outside of farming with his family, and studying with his only friend until two other students take an interest in him. Why they were both independently drawn to Hamish and how his relationships with them develop created a powerful narrative.
Hamish discovers himself through his interactions with Martin, Peter, and Annie. Some friendships fall apart and some don’t- that’s just how life is. The people who really matter should love and understand you, and not everyone in your life deserves to stay in your life. Representing positive and negative reactions to the events that take place in this novel creates a reality and almost anyone is sure to be able to relate to. Additionally, seeing LGBT+ representation in a religious suburban/rural town is something that a lot of kids can identify with, and the various reactions to these character identities was both heart-breaking and heart-warming.