First Time Author
Frances Macken’s debut novel You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here is a coming of age story. And a bit more. Friendships, families and a mysterious disappearance pull the reader along.
The novel begins and ends in Glenbuff, Ireland. Sandwiched in between this rural setting is an important stint in Dublin for the main character, Katie. But is that all there is to the world?
Complex, altering between secure and insecure, mature and immature, loyal and disloyal best describes Katie. Her tight knit group of friends extends to two cousins, Evelyn and Maeve. One rich and one poor. And a pair of brothers. On the fringes is the girl gone missing.
Katie makes new friends and acquaintances in Dublin as she completes school and starts out in life. Or at least she tries to make a go of things.
Family is also a key component of Katie’s life. Parents and a younger brother influence her decision-making. Sometimes, they make the decision for her as they prod her through life. Letting go is a hard part of parenting.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the author’s character development is the accuracy of how people interrelate. Macken involves the reader as if a bystander. Present but unable to interfere. Just watching as Katie develops into an independent thinker.
You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here
The title alludes to the rural life of Glenbuff. Furthermore, the idea transfers across boundaries and borders. Cities come complete with their attractions in place for discovery, but the rural areas of the world rely on imagination. Another level exists besides physical location. Growth and maturity are not guarantees. Perhaps this is easier to see in a small town.
Frances Macken wrote You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here in first person. As an American, I struggled at first with the dialogue. Yet Macken’s writing is so profound the extra effort is well worth it. Katie’s inner struggles are so relatable, and so meaningful.
I highly recommend this debut novel. Hopefully Macken is working on her next release. This book is a winner and book clubs, classrooms and bedside tables are all better with a copy from this new author.