All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Geography Of Friendship by Sally Piper

on July 13, 2018

The Geography Of Friendship
Sally Piper
2018, 251p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

We can’t ever go back, but some journeys require walking the same path again.

When three young women set off on a hike through the wilderness they are anticipating the adventure of a lifetime. Over the next five days, as they face up to the challenging terrain, it soon becomes clear they are not alone and the freedom they feel quickly turns to fear. Only when it is too late for them to turn back do they fully appreciate the danger they are in. As their friendship is tested, each girl makes an irrevocable choice; the legacy of which haunts them for years to come.

Now in their forties, Samantha, Lisa and Nicole are estranged, but decide to revisit their original hike in an attempt to salvage what they lost. As geography and history collide, they are forced to come to terms with the differences that have grown between them and the true value of friendship.

As soon as I read the description for this book, I knew I had to read it. It’s not a long blurb but just even from that brief paragraph you can tell that there’s going to be a lot going on in this book.

As young teens at high school, Lisa, Samantha and Nicole were close friends, always having each other’s backs. They may have fallen in with each other out of a sort of necessity but they became close, their personalities complimenting each other. Sam is a people pleaser, Lisa arrogantly aggressive and Nicole went from being home-schooled by her parents with high expectations to high school and Lisa and Sam helped ease the way. Sometime after they finish school the three girls decide to go on a five day hike through wilderness, following a specific trail. They are highly excited about their adventure, something that is meant to start the next phase of their lives.

In the present day, Lisa, Samantha and Nicole are in their forties. They haven’t spoken in about twenty years but Samantha still knows the voice on the other end of the phone before she identifies herself. Lisa arranges a meeting between the three of them, telling them that she wants to go back. Do that hike again, face the fear and confront the demons of what happened that first time around. They all find themselves agreeing, perhaps all needing something out of revisiting that territory.

The two stories run side by side so the tension of the first trip builds as the second trip hits the same stops and marks that define the first. It’s the sort of thing where from the beginning of the girl’s first trip, you can see the danger that is coming. What starts off as a confrontation leads to an aggressive sort of stalking, taunting and deliberately trying to inflict fear into the three young women. It’s a depiction of the sort of toxic masculinity that has been so talked about lately – men who cannot handle women who say no, stand up for themselves, won’t be bullied, won’t be cowed. One of the women in particular is very defined by her anger and she’s not afraid to clap back, despite the two others wishing that she wouldn’t and that she’d stand down. Perhaps they see the danger of it and the societal pressure of backing down, apologising, smoothing things over in an attempt to ward off any repercussions. But the third woman either doesn’t or doesn’t care, determinedly wanting to show that they are not afraid and will not be intimidated.

There’s obviously a lot about friendship in this book, it’s in the title after all. When the three women meet up again in their forties, they haven’t been friends in over twenty years. They seem to have very few close friends. Their lives have gone in different directions: Lisa is divorced from a volatile marriage and wondering what the effect it has had on her daughter is, Samantha is still married and the mother of three boys but she’s questioning whether or not her marriage is still alive. And Nicole has never married and has no children. The events of that first hike has shadowed their lives, haunted them each separately and this second hike is a chance to free themselves from its chains and also reconnect with each other. In the first hike, their friendship is tested when the pressure of being watched, being followed, being targeted begins to take its toll. They struggle with the fear and the threat of that probable confrontation hanging over their heads and so they turn their aggression and stress on each other. Their different personalities become the thing that butts up against each other as they cannot agree with how they should go about getting out of this.

I found this a really engrossing read although sometimes I did struggle to pick which timeline we were in as they do mirror each other quite closely and a few times it took me a little bit to figure out whether we were still in the present or had switched back to the past. I really enjoy the way the author built tension in both timelines – not just the tension of the person following them and intimidating them but also the tensions in their friendships and the tensions of the past coming to the present. The atmosphere is brilliant and I’m not a hiker at all and have no experience in this sort of environment but it felt like I was there, trudging through this forest (I’m very unfit, so I’d probably be Samantha, lagging along at the back while others were ahead), the blisters, the heat, the isolation, everything.

I really enjoyed this – will definitely be adding Sally Piper’s other book Grace’s Table to my wishlist and keeping an eye out for her future releases.


Book #116 of 2018



7 responses to “Review: The Geography Of Friendship by Sally Piper

  1. I have bought this. Keen to bump it up now!

  2. That is such an interesting story idea. Adding it to my list

  3. Sally Piper says:

    Thanks for your review 1girl2manybooks (your site’s title is the story of my life too by the way!). I’m really pleased the story resonated with you, as it seems to be for many women. Happy reading!

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