I Had Such Friends

I Had Such Friends 1

by Meg Gatland-Veness

Paperback Publication Date: 01/08/2018

4/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $19.99 $16.50

So, then it happened. Peter Bridges pulled into the bus bay.

You're not allowed to do that. Peter was in my year but I hardly ever saw him at school. He was on the football team, though he had almost been kicked off more times than I could count, for fighting and not showing up to training. His car was the cheapest-looking Toyota Corolla I had ever seen in my life.

“Hey Hamish,” he said, and I couldn't for the life of me work out how it was that he could possibly know my name. “Want a ride home?”

When Charlie Parker dies it affects everyone who knew him. Everyone, that is, except for Hamish Day, the boy with only one friend, who lives on a cabbage farm. After a tragic car accident leaves his school in grief, Hamish finds himself pulled into the lives of the people left behind. He tries his best to thread them back together again, even though he is pretty sure he's the least qualified person for the job.

With hard-hitting themes of unrequited love, sexuality, bullying, death and suicide, readers will take part in a poignant story about 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 pushes us to reflect on our own 'sliding doors' moment.

Who are you to someone else, and what part do you play in his or her story?

General fiction (Children's / Teenage)
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Meg Gatland-Veness

Meg Gatland-Veness is a powerful emerging voice for young Australians. Born in a tiny, country town called Milton, she grew up on the Central Coast before going to the University of Newcastle to study a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and Drama, as well as a Bachelor of Secondary Teaching. Writing stories for as long as she can remember and reading them for even longer, Meg always carries a notebook with her in case inspiration strikes or she encounters a beautiful new word.

Equally heartfelt is her passion for championing local youths and promoting important conversations about themes like love, sexuality, bullying, suicide, grief and trauma. Inspired not only by her career as a high school teacher in both Australia and London, but also her own personal school experiences, Meg wrote I Had Such Friends, a poignant and important YA debut about self-discovery, grief and the tragic power of silence in rural Australia.

Her writing urges readers to notice the gaps in another 's words and question the parts we play in somebody else 's story. Meg is a high school Drama teacher living on the Central Coast of New South Wales. Other than writing novels, she channels her unending creativity into choreographing and directing musicals, writing poetry, singing and ballet, as well as playing tennis, volleyball and soccer.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

4 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • Content Warnings Included

    by on

    Content warnings include grief, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, homophobia, alcoholism, discussion about prior drug use, bullying, accidental death and suicide (including method used).

    Charlie Parker, who was loved by everyone (including his teachers), has died. The entire school has been deeply affected by his death at the beginning of Year 12. Well, everyone except Hamish and his only friend Martin. Hamish hasn’t been the same since a tragedy in his own family years ago and he thinks he knows what Annie, Charlie’s girlfriend and the prettiest girl in school, is going through.

    ‘Back then, I thought I was invincible. Back then, I didn’t realise children could die.’

    It’s a hard book to review for a couple of reasons. Most of the time I didn’t even like the main character, particularly when he kept ditching his only friend because someone more popular was suddenly paying attention to him. I also spent most of the book wondering why a specific character suddenly wanted to spend time with Hamish when they were polar opposites in most respects. This is explained towards the end but, although I liked the other character, I didn’t really take to their unusual friendship. I had guessed a big reveal early on so I didn’t feel the impact of that when it happened.

    ‘Some conversations work better in dark rooms where faces are hidden by the quiet.’

    At times it felt like I was playing YA Social Issue Bingo while reading this book (look at length of my content warnings list if you don’t believe me) but at the same time it was realistic because many high school kids really do have to deal with all of these issues and more.

    I appreciated that this book highlights the fact that you really don’t know what is going on in other peoples’ lives. Behind the smile of the prettiest girl in school there could be a world of pain. Beneath the bravado of the star football player there may be secret shame. I wish that these kids had been given help for their problems or at least been able to tell a trusted adult instead of another kid who didn’t know what to do to help.

    The sentences that addressed the reader only served to pull me out of the story and the repeated use of “As you know” irritated me. For example,

    ‘I guess I don’t need to tell you that Martin hated the beach. As you know, he couldn’t really swim, and he didn’t look too great with his shirt off.’

    Thank you so much to NetGalley and Pantera Press for the opportunity to read this book. I am rounding up from 3.5 stars. I’m interested in reading this author’s next book.