I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness #LoveOzYA
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication: August 1st 2018
Publisher: Pantera Press
Source: Copy for review from publisher – Thank You.
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵
When Charlie Parker dies, it affects everyone who knew him. Everyone, that is, except for seventeen-year-old Hamish Day, the boy who lives on a cabbage farm and only has one friend. But Hamish soon finds himself pulled into the complicated lives of the people left behind. Among them is Annie Bower, the prettiest girl in school. As he uncovers startling truths about his peers, his perspectives on friendship, love, grief and the tragic power of silence are forever altered.
Meg’s own teaching experience has enabled her to delve deeper into the true nature of a universal high school experience. I Had Such Friends will speak to high school students/teenagers on a personal level, and foster important conversations among Australian youth, school and family culture on issues including abuse, failure and neglect.
With hard-hitting themes including unrequited love, abuse, neglect, sexuality, bullying, prejudice, death and suicide, I Had Such Friends is a poignant journey of self-discovery, grief and the tragic power of silence. A gripping look at adolescent pain with a narrative maturity that accurately reflects its YA milieu, I Had Such Friends resonates with young adult audiences and pushes them to reflect on their own ‘sliding doors’ moment.
Damn, I’ve been struggling with how to review this one.
While I loved parts of it, it also made so super sad.
The story follows Hamish, a self described scrawny farm kid loser who hates farming, during his last year of high school. We journey with Hamish as he discovers his sexuality, self-identity and true friendship. This story is filled with grief, hate, and heartbreaking sadness.
Things I liked:
♥ Going on Hamish’s journey with him.
♥ Hamish’s self confidence and self-worth growing as the story progressed.
♥ Hamish learning how to let people into his heart again.
♥ Hamish figuring out the whole friendship thing and making a lifelong meaningful and healing friend in Annie.
♥ Peter finding comfort, friendship, and someone he could confide in with Hamish.
Things I disliked / made me sad:
I feel Peter should have been able to end up in the flat with Hamish and Annie. He could have done labouring work, while Hamish and Annie attended Uni. The story would have still carried valuable messages, but have left your heart warmed in the end.
I had such friends was a beautiful story and I did really enjoy it, I just feel it doesn’t offer any kind of hope to a person in Peter’s situation. Peter was without a doubt my favourite character in the story. I liked Hamish and Annie. But I loved peter. Even in our much more progressive modern society people in Peter’s situation still do not make it out, that’s why in my mind his character should have.
Who would like this story: Anyone who wants to read something ‘real’ feeling. Anyone wanting a glimpse into queer teenage australia. #LoveOZYA aficionados. #AusQueerYA aficionados. Anyone into ‘day in the life’ style contemporary reads.
Trigger Warnings: child abuse, homophobia, bullying, death and suicide.
I will be keeping an eye out for more books by Meg Gatland-Veness and am keen to read what she writes next.