Book Review: Keep Your Friends Close


ashley | I picked up Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly a long time ago after being sent a copy, but it’s taken me forever to read. I’m not sure why, I just keep getting distracted and this keeps getting pushed aside. I regret this, deeply, because this book is quite a ride.

I admired Natty and Paul. They have a demanding, busy lifestyle but they still managed to make the most of it, to care for their two girls, to maintain a relatively solid relationship. That is until their daughter falls ill abroad and Natty travels to be with her, leaving Paul home alone with her visiting friend Eve, who just exerts trouble and you know nothing good is going to come of this.

I always have a difficult time reading about infidelity and families being torn apart and Daly’s writing is so emotional and so full that I personally felt Natty’s pain; I felt it as if it were my own pain, making this a very emotional and powerful book. I think her descriptions of feelings and the character’s reactions in this situation are very realistic and relatable and she has a deep understanding of the human response.

It’s really easy in a book like this to make Natty perfect to offset Eve’s evil doings. Poor Natty, she doesn’t deserve any of this, everything is so unfair and she’s clearly being framed. And Natty doesn’t deserve this, not at all, but she doesn’t have a squeaky clean past, some of her reactions could have been handled better, it’s almost believable that it could all be in her head. She is the victim, but you can’t help but feel she’s almost making it worse for herself sometimes and can’t help but understand why Paul might be so blind to what is really going on. It’s a very thin line here and Daly straddles it perfectly.

I also enjoyed that Paul wasn’t made out to be the bad guy, even though he was doing a horrible thing. There was anger and hatred and he wasn’t thought of fondly, but his character didn’t fully change into a monster and he still cared for his children and wanted what was best for Natty. And I enjoyed that Natty, at first, had the decency not to blame her friend Eve. Not entirely, anyway. Seeing that it was a choice Paul made. It was nice to read about a female who didn’t jump right to blaming the other female instead of the man (even though in this case, she had every right to put the blame her).

The narration changes through the chapters from first person Natty to third person focusing on Eve and Joanne (the detective), all the while shining more and more light on the shadows of the past that come creeping back into their lives. But it all comes down to one thing, how much are you willing to fight for your family? What would you do when pushed to the limits? I think Daly has created a dark, but accurate example of how far a fierce and loyal mother will go to protect her family.

I really, really enjoyed this book and read it obsessively. I was right there with Natty through it all, sympathizing with all her actions, cheering for her as she started piecing things together. I don’t know if things are taken too far, it does seem like things get a bit out of control, but I also feel as though, if pushed to the limit, I would do the exact same thing to protect my family. Natty is my hero and Keep Your Friends Close was easily one of my favourite summer reads.