Today, it’s a book review of a book that I was sent last week by the publishers and a book I read in two days straight as I couldn’t put it down. It’s You Have To Make Your Own Fun Around Here by Francis Macken.

Today, I’m back with another book review and not on this year’s Women’s Prize long-list but the wonderful debut novel from Francis Macken, You Have To Make Your Own Fun Around Here. What’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:

Katie, Maeve and Evelyn – friends forever, united by their childhood games and their dreams of escaping the tiny Irish town of Glenbruff.

Outspoken, unpredictable and intoxicating, Evelyn is the undisputed leader of the trio. That is, until the beautiful, bold Pamela Cooney arrives from Dublin and changes Glenbruff forever…

Told from Katie’s witty, quirky perspective, Frances Macken’s debut beautifully captures life in a small town and the power of yearning for something bigger. Filled with unforgettable characters and crackling dialogue, You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here takes a keen-eyed look at the complexities of female friendship, the corrosive power of jealousy and guilt, and the way that life can quietly erode our dreams unless we’re willing to fight for them.

First things first – that cover! Isn’t it just gorgeous? As soon as I saw it on Instagram, I was obsessed with it – I love the font, the colours, the shapes – it’s one of my favourite covers in a very long time. But inside is just as great, too. As soon as this came in the post, I started it and I couldn’t put it down. I loved it – it’s a book that you can probably read in a single sitting if you wanted, too. The chapters are pretty much a page and a half or even just a page so the pace is quick and snappy which means you can’t stop reading it.

There’s a lot to love from this book and the writing is brilliant, too. I loved the characters in the book, they are the heart of it, for me. We focus on Katie, Maeve and Evelyn, three best friends as they dream of escaping the Irish town of Glenbruff. The story is told from Katie’s perspective that will make you laugh, make you cringe at the same time. I loved the characterisation of Katie and her voice – it was brilliant, quirky and it really kicked up the pace of the novel, too. I loved the ensemble of characters, too. Evelyn is a firecracker who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind and there’s a great sense of Derry Girls for me, especially in the dialogue between the three girls.

There’s a lot of themes that I loved and took from the book, too. I loved, especially loved, the idea of creativity in the book. Of wanting to escape, to dream, to have creative freedom which runs throughout the book. It’s about friendship ultimately in all of it’s complexities: of envy, jealousy, hatred, of yearning for more, of how strong your bond is with one another and I think Frances captured that brilliantly in the novel.

The only niggle I have with the story is that I think there’s a great story about Pamela Cooney and I felt that part of the story could have been discovered more in the overall story but overall, I really enjoyed reading it and I couldn’t put it down. A great tale of the complexities of growing up, friendship, and creative freedom. And also, a pretty great cover, too.

You Have To Make Your Own Fun Around Here is published by OneWorld and is out tomorrow in hardback and e-book. Again, a big thank you to OneWorld for my gifted copy – I loved it!

If you’ve read You Have To Make Your Own Fun Around Here, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,



  1. so great to hear that u enjoyed this! ☺ ive had my eye on this novel ever since i heard about it (plus totally agree about the cover!! those colours are so compelling!!)

    Liked by 1 person

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