Accidental Friends by Helena Pielichaty

(February 2008)

Age range: 13+ (young adult) Price: £5.99

Accidental Friends by Helena Pielichaty book cover

What's it all about?

'At any other time they would never have met. Bright, arty Emma with her steady boyfriend. James, the public schoolboy in disgrace. Leon, angry with the world and determined on revenge. Last but not least Grace, with her hidden secret. Thrust together on their first day at college they form an uneasy alliance that turns to friendship and even love. But if fate brought them together, it's a different, life-threatening accident that will test their friendship to the limit.'

Four 16 year-olds who have all come from different backgrounds. They meet at Hercules Clay College on the first day when the lift breaks down and become friends. The story is told restrospectively by Emma, one of the four. She is preparing her art exhibition 'Consequences' for assessment the next day and asks Kazia, the Polish woman cleaning the art studio, to help her practice her talk for the examiners. As Emma explains the meaning behind each piece to Kazia, the story is revealed.

'It compels you to keep turning the pages and drink in every word...' Pauline Chandler

'I really loved Accidental Friends. The emotions were real, the characters believable, the structure really interesting and all in all, a terrific read.' – Adele Geras

'The joy of the story lies in seeing how these likeable characters pull their lives together with each other's help and the second chance that a college education offers.' – Books for Keeps

'An enjoyable read and a clever idea... not only the four characters meeting in the lift, and the consequences game, but also the way of telling the story through Emma's art show and involvement of Kazia, which lets you slip from one episode to another without the awkwardness of time passing. And I've learned about Poland's syndrome, which I'd never heard of before.' – Linda Newbery

'Engaging characters with interesting stories told in an intriguing way.' – Education Library Service

'Told in a unique way through the game "Consequences" this story deals with real issues in an exciting and modern way. With a touch of dark wit, I thoroughly enjoyed this book though I would deem it unsuitable for younger readers — brilliant.'
Rebecca Grant, Waterstone's Junior Proof Reader, Ayr group

'I thought this book was really fun and showed that many stories can simply be broken down into a game of consequences — a boy, a girl, where they met and what happened next. Even when you consider the diverse characters who are playing the game, in this case the consequences would have been impossible to predict — a newly released young offender looking for payback, a sister who could out-do any evil stepmother, an accident that could prove fatal, a love triangle, a hidden illness.

I would praise this book for the unique style, the fantastic characters and a story that leaps of the page and keeps you reading all night. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would thoroughly recommend it.' Read the full review
Zoë Page, The Book Bag

'Your teen characters were spot-on. I loved the humour'
Anne Cassidy, author of Looking for JJ

Where did the idea come from?

Several places. I wanted to write a multi-narrative again as I had for Never Ever but with four characters rather than two this time. I was also reacting to the headlines each year when GCSE results are published. The media talks about how the exams have been 'dumbed down' but I know from my own children how hard they worked for those 'dumbed down' results and it made me angry so that was my starting point.

I don't want to give too much of the plot away but my research included imitation firearms, electronic tagging, how lifts work, the Youth Offenders Service, mastectomy bras, Newark College in Nottinghamshire's prospectus and its lunch menus.

Check out I still need to add things to it but the bare bones are there.

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photo of cast performing the book

photo of cast performing the book