*The book discussed in this post was gifted by Rock The Boat Publishing*
One of my favourite types of YA is hard-hitting, heart-breaking stories that will rip your heart apart, so when i heard about How To Make Friends With The Dark by Kathleen Glasgow, i knew it would be right up my street for all of these buzzwords.
I’ve heard incredible things about Kathleen’s first novel, Girl in Pieces, and i’ve been itching to read something by her for some time now. When Rock The Boat offered to gift me a copy of How To Make Friends i jumped at the chance to review it for them, and also share this story with our book club.
I wasn’t expecting just how much i’d fall in love with this story when i started reading it. It’s a long contemporary at just over four-hundred pages, so it’s a little intimidating, but Kathleen’s writing style makes it go by so quickly. It’s wonderfully true to the situation her writing style, and i think she nailed Tiger’s voice right on the head. It’s been a while since i’ve read something that really took on the role of a character like this did. It was stunning to be in Tiger’s mind so prominently.
On top of that, i was a little worried about the themes discussed in the book. The main theme is grief, with some mention of self harm, suicide (neither of these are present as a discriptive story-line) and also neglect. I’m okay with reading about any of these story-lines, however within the first fifty pages i almost DNF’d How To Make Friends because it was just too sad for me. There’s a lot of heavy description of grief, which i wasn’t expecting for a YA book, but in hindsight it was perfectly done and really drew out emotions in me that i never thought i could feel about someone. I’ve experienced grief before, but i felt as though i was grieving for these characters too. It was incredibly intense at times, and some scenes throughout the book didn’t let up in intensity, but i’m really glad that i continued on with the story.
One thing i really loved about this was the focus on friendship. I was waiting for the turning point for Tiger to get in to a relationship and the story-line would have been made so ‘easy’ from doing that. However, Kathleen wrote her without a partner and continued her on through foster homes, through family contact and her friends. I absolutely adored that about this book. There was no easy way out in the story, because there’s no easy way out in grief. It felt so realistic, especially as there was no relationship to magically fix everything happening.
How To Make Friends is an exploration of friendship and what it means to have found family. It deals with grief in a manor that i’ve never experienced and it introduces so many memorable characters that you will adore, and love to hate. I cannot stress that this book is not for everyone. I imagine if you’ve lost a parent this might be an incredibly tough read for you, so think carefully about starting this book. However, if these are topics that you can handle in literature, i urge you to pick up How To Make Friends With The Dark. It’s stunningly written, has amazingly realistic characters and there are some amusing moments. Just be prepared with a box of tissues.
How To Make Friends With The Dark is released on the 9th of April 2019.