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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 6 star ratings
4 reviews

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4.2 out of 5
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    gripping novel

    4 **** Stars: 4/5 star rating This book deals with the delicate subject of anorexia. Joanne Sefton handles it with sensitivity, research, and compassion. The story also deals with guilt and friendship. Three friends....one dead & one lying. Alex was the bright star among the three and now she is dead. Which of the remaining two friends is lying? Karen or Misty? Readers will be attached to the book, wanting to know the final resolution and the revealing of the truth. I did find the switching of characters' voices a bit confusing at the beginning when I wasn't yet familiar with the characters, but this got better as I continued to read. This is only the second novel the author has written and I foresee a rich future for her. I received a digital copy of this book from netgalley and Avon Publishing in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    An emotional read.

    This book had me hooked right from the beginning. It is an emotionally compelling story about family relationships, friendship, mystery and anorexia. The part that anorexia plays in the story did come as a surprise as this is not mentioned in the blurb. I feel compelled to mention it, as it could be a trigger for some readers. Joanne doesn’t waste any time in throwing the reader into the story which is where we get our first glimpse into the mystery side of it. Whilst watching a breaking news story of a suspected terror attack where a bomb has gone off on a tube train, Karen can’t believe her eyes when she sees a woman on the screen that bears the most remarkable resemblance to her best friend Alex. There shouldn’t be anything unusual about that right?….Wrong! Alex has been dead for thirty years!…. Throughout the book, Joanne takes the reader on a journey to the past told from the perspective of Karen, Misty and Alex we then return, thirty years later to the present, with Karen, Misty and Tasha (Karen’s Daughter). I enjoyed going back to the past, as the reader it gave me a good insight into the three women’s friendship and the events that lead up to the death of Alex. Alex died due to complications of a long history of anorexia, and how her death resulted in the breakdown of Karen and Misty’s friendship. The past is then woven into the present day, where history is about to repeat itself with Tasha, and when Karen and Misty are reunited by a mutual friend they must confront the part they played in Alex’s death if they are to have any chance of saving Tasha. The characters in the book were very relatable and well developed. For me the standouts were: Karen who has been through the most over the course of the story, where she is having to deal with a recent tragedy and other struggles whilst raising her three daughters. This at times can make her a bit self absorbed and oblivious to those around her, and you just want to shake her, especially with her lack of urgency to Tasha’s current battle. She also still struggles with the death of Alex as she feels that she was to blame so I understand that this shaped her into the adult she became. I really liked Misty’s character and how she turned the death of Alex into something positive, by becoming a doctor specialising in eating disorders. Her never give up attitude when helping her patients and then Tasha was to be admired. Tasha broke my heart. I felt her pain and just wanted to help her. It was at times distressing to read when the story was told from her perspective and about how she was feeling. You will need the tissues handy for her parts in the book. The book moved at a steady pace and gave each character the time needed to tell their story without being drawn out. I was so invested in it, that time would get away from me and a couple of chapters turned into just one more, and one more until there wasn’t any more to read! I also have to make mention of “the ending” and what an ending it is! The last sentence written was jaw dropping and gasp worthy. It is a brilliant twist that has stayed with me long after reading it! For me, this is what makes a book great and Joanne has definitely mastered the wow factor in this story. I really enjoyed Joanne’s writing style. Having known someone that had everything going for her only to succumb to this terrible disease, it could have been quite hard for me to read. However, Joanne handles the subject respectfully and with sensitivity. It is clear that the book was extremely well researched. I look forward to reading more of Joanne’s work. While the book is billed as a thriller/suspense, I am not sure that’s the right fit as a descriptor. All round though, this is a great book, I highly recommend it. Thank-you to #NetGalley, #AvonBooksUK and #JoanneSefton for allowing me to read an advanced copy of The Guilty Friends in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not biased in anyway.
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Intriguing, gripping, emotional.

    TW: Death, anorexia A suspenseful, fast-paced story that touches on tough issues such as anorexia, death, friendship, and scandal. The storyline is consistent and engaging from the get-go, and well written and researched. I found the main characters were quite vivid by description and any touchy topics were touched on in a sensitive way. Rating: 4/5 Thanks to NetGalley and Avon books for the eARC!
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    An emotional story about women

    What I anticipated out of The Guilty Friend and what I ended up with are two completely different stories. Based on the novel synopsis, I assumed two best friends would carry dark secrets about what lead to their best friend's demise - as would be the case with a typical thriller. That's not the case here. I do feel like The Guilty Friend fell prey to some false advertising. It's not a thriller. But that doesn't mean it isn't suspenseful or isn't worth reading, just that it isn't the book you might anticipate by reading the summary alone. Mild spoilers ahead. The story focuses on three girls, Karen, Misty, and Alex, in the past and the present. In the present, Alex is supposedly dead. In the past, we see how the three girls became so close but also the darkness that loomed over them. Alex struggled with anorexia, and the disease became both a weapon and a wall. In present-day 2019, Karen thinks she sees Alex on television, and it spawns the semi-mystery of whether or not Alex is alive. But if you're expecting the book to become a sordid tale of Alex's past, it doesn't. The focus is really on Karen's daughter, Tasha, who also succumbs to anorexia and her journey through it. Misty has become a doctor who specializes in eating disorders as a way of making up for what happened to Alex. She blames herself for not being able to save her. I understand what the author was trying to do. In her author's note, she talks about wanting to alter the common thriller trope. Instead of a human antagonist or violence, she wanted the tension to stem from a disease. It does, but the book spends more time on the dramatic tension and relationships between characters than an overarching mystery or story. There is more angst, sadness, and exploratory emotional beats than there is suspense. That said, The Guilty Friend is still a compelling read. The author is tasteful and factual in her depiction of anorexia, and it's nice to see someone tackle this disease without glamorizing it. However, I did find the story too meandering for my taste. It failed to keep me engaged for large portions. Am I glad I read it? Yes. But it wasn't always easy to get through and not just because of the heavy content. Should you read The Guilty Friend? It depends on your tastes. If you want to read an emotional story about women trying to help each other through intense grief and the terrible disease that is anorexia, then yes. Sefton is a competent writer. The characters are well-crafted, and even though the relationship-building sometimes falls short, there are some stunning scenes in this book. If you're expecting a more traditional thriller or suspense story, I advise skipping it. I don't think you'll be satisfied with what's offered here.

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