Asking For A Friend by Kate Mallinder
Published By: Firefly Press
Released: 4th June 2020
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
A feel-good friendship story from the author of Summer of No Regrets – three friends tackle loneliness, fear of illness, and social media bullying, in a character-driven story about valuing the friends who value you.
Agnes, Hattie and Jake travel on the school bus together, but don’t know each other well.
They plan a week in Weston, as a ‘study break’ before exams, but none of them admit the real reasons they need to get away.
Agnes must find her sister. Hattie can’t bear being home now all her friends have ghosted her. And Jake is afraid he’s ill and has absolutely no idea how to tell anyone.
In one amazing week, they’ll risk their lives, face their fears and find themselves.
Agnes, Hattie and Jake all travel on the bus to school together, but none of them know each other at all when. However, when they get talking they all plan a week away in Weston as a ‘study break’ before their exams, all of them wanting to get away for different reasons but none of them admitting what they are. Agnes longs to find her sister who has moved to Weston, Hattie’s friends are ghosting her and she needs to get away from it all and Jake is afraid he’s seriously ill with no idea how to confide in somebody. In one incredible week all three may face their innermost fears and find out who they really are.
Kate Mallinder is slowly becoming one of my favourite YA contemporary authors, and after reading her debut Summer of No Regrets last year, I knew I had to read her second book Asking For A Friend. Let me tell you this..it certainly didn’t disappoint and lived up to my expectations! If you want your heart to feel warm and fuzzy, then this book is certainly one that you need to have in your life.
Asking For A Friend had a great blend of being both plot driven and character driven, and that can be quite hard to get right, so I applaud Kate for getting the balance perfect. Plotwise it’s very well executed and I became so invested in each character and their personal journey as we went on through the story. You essentially get taken on such a great adventure that you really don’t want to stop reading. The multiple viewpoints were also, in my opinion, a great way to tell us the story. The fact that we got to know each of our protagonists on a personal level through this was just brilliant. I feel that if the story was told through just one viewpoint then it wouldn’t have the desired effect on the reader.
Each of our protagonists I loved and honestly I couldn’t fault them! What I found was that you weren’t made to feel anymore empathy or love for one character over another. The way they were all written and portrayed made you invest in them equally and fairly. Each character also had a distinct voice and personality which, in turn, made it easy to separate one from the other. We had Agnes and her no nonsense approach, Hattie and her slight naivety and Jake and his trouble to confide. I also want to mention some secondary characters that I fell for during reading, two of them being Marjorie and Marian. They brought a great deal of comic relief to this story and I absolutely adored them as a pair. If I’m honest I would love to read more about them and their adventures. Also Auntie Sadie was brilliantly written! Her quirkiness and free spiritedness lifted my spirits and yet again, I would love to know more about her and her B & B.
Asking For A Friend focuses on some pretty important topics such as autism, online bullying and illness, which are all issues that we need to be addressing. I found the subplot of Agnes’ autism to be of particular interest. Having hardly any knowledge of the topic, I found that I learned a lot about it through this character, and I feel that many teens with autism or aspergers will see Agnes as a role model of sorts, and will also realise that they aren’t alone. Despite the book having these issues, Kate does a great way of intertwining them delicately into the plot and thus, the book doesn’t feel like it is too heavy for the reader to digest.
Asking For A Friend was such a heartwarming, insightful, delightful read that overall had me smiling, laughing and even crying at times. Kate Mallinder has done it again and written an incredibly thoughtful book that will have you yearning to go on a trip with your closest friends. It is most certainly a book that we need in times like these.