'This was perfect. Shades of Elena Ferrante in the story of a country girl who leaves and the friend who stays behind. Light of touch but not light of substance. Great stuff.'
– Kathleen MacMahon, author of This is How it Ends
'This atmospheric debut looks like a rural Irish coming-of-age novel, but it’s cleverer, darker, more unreliable.'
– Daily Mail
'A fresh, clever look at the intricacies and jealousies of female friendship. This debut reads like a modern, mysterious version of Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls.'
– Irish Examiner
'Hugely enjoyable, profound and humorous.'
– Mayo News
‘Small town familiarity meets the Utopian promises of Dublin city as school finishes. Alcohol, grief and the pressure to have 'stories' to bring home to those at home destroy the silvery-spun webs of friendships. Astute and sharp, this is sublime.’
– The Book Nook
'Few writers have articulated the intricacies of friendship – the dependency, the uncertainty, the fragility of the pecking order – with as much authority….a debut bursting with heart.'
– Irish Independent
'I loved this one... In some ways, this novel reminded me a fair bit of My Brilliant Friend, just a different time and place, but connected by those themes of friendship, moving on and breaking free.'
– Theresa Smith Writes
'Macken's downplaying of major events, such as Pamela's disappearance and Katie's college years, resonates with the solipsism of youth... [She] gets a lot of mileage from Katie's beguiling voice and sardonic humor.'
– Publishers Weekly
‘You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here vividly captures life in a close-knit community, while examining the intricacies and anxieties of female friendship… Katie is a vibrant creation, whose insights are often fresh and startling… The ups-and-downs of going places is ultimately what makes the narrative come to life.’
– Irish Times
'This exploration of the seething hinterland of growing up, with its often unspoken passions, unrequited longings and intense jealousies, is melancholy, funny, dark and affecting.'
– Deborah Kay Davies, author of Reasons She Goes to the Woods
'A subtle, powerful debut novel. Quietly packing her emotional punches, never predictable, Macken’s prose is clear-eyed yet lyrical, and in Katie, she has created a truly touching (and at times very funny) protagonist... A new voice in fiction to celebrate.'
– Anna Beer, author of Patriot or Traitor
'Readers will be charmed by the picture of Katie’s circle of friends and acquaintances... Macken's first novel will suit young adult and adult readers alike.'
'Frances Macken's You Have To Make Your Own Fun Around Here charts the friendship of three small-town girls from their childhoods through to their early careers, exploring envy and self-belief with consistent, natural humour and spot-on observations.'
– Caoilinn Hughes, author of Orchid & the Wasp
'It's funny, dark and brilliant on toxic friendships. I highly recommend.'
– Jackie Lyman, Dublin City Libraries
'Frances Macken paints the very real scenario, that we leave, just to say that we did… A breath-taking novel from Irish writer, Frances Macken, shows us that while we may anchor our dreams around others, we can achieve them on our own.'
– Waterford News and Star
'Written with a keen insight into female friendships and dripping with wit and charm, You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here is a truly immersive story. Macken has a visual eye, bringing simple scenes to life with a carefully chosen word or perceptive detail, and her ear for dialogue is pitch-perfect. The ways in which she captures the pull of the places we call home and the people from our childhoods who shape our lives is also impressive... Reminded me of the best of Maeve Binchy's work, albeit set in a more modern era.'
– Reading Matters
'Mayo author Frances Macken captures the intricacies and anxieties of female friendship in this vibrant story set in the fictional small town of Glenbruff… Jealousy and guilt dog the three young women as they attempt to follow their dreams and make their mark in the world in this funny and at times dark tale.'
– Irish Independent
'Following these young women from their childhood to their 20s, Macken's novel grapples with the successes and disappointments that splinter their friendship. This tension between expectation and reality — between dreams and growing up — becomes a driving narrative force in the novel... Macken thrives in making meaning out of the commonplace...as she traces Katie and Evelyn's friendship from early childhood to adulthood, inviting the reader to follow along.'