... a gem of idiomatic dialogue. Every character has a unique voice and every conversation is a polyrhythmic marvel of New York accents. Part Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and part Mario Puzzo's La Mamma, A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself is a funny, gritty, touching narrative about the strength of three New York women caught in a world of abusive men, broken families, and mob violence ... Boyle has a knack for violence and telegrammatic prose. He uses dialogue to tell the stories of his characters and push the action forward, and when no one's talking, his writing is fast and sharp, with a touch of literary flair ... A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself is a rarity; a fresh novel about New York's underbelly.
The Elmore Leonard–like cinematic prose begs for a film adaptation ... Recommend this triumph of moral ambiguity to fans of black humor, including that of Carl Hiaasen and Dennis Lehane, in addition to Leonard.
William Boyle's work (Gravesend, The Lonely Witness) is some of the finest in crime fiction and while he ticks every box each time out, the emphasis changes. Character and nonstop action are gloriously on the rampage here ... Boyle's dialogue snaps and his sense of place is top-notch. This roller-coaster madcap tragicomedy is a great gift to give yourself.
It is a chaotic ride that is at times fun and exciting and at other times frustrating and hard to follow. Boyle pushes the zany into overdrive on occasion, and that, combined with a dependence on happenstance, makes for an uneven read ... A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself is a heartfelt character-driven novel, which is fun and dynamic with an unbelievably crazy road trip involving characters you just wouldn’t expect ... But Boyle is a good writer who, when he is in the zone, writes compelling and approachable prose.
[The book's premise] sounds a little bit loopy, along the lines of Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey, and there is indeed a surreal element to this caper. But there is also more than a little Thelma & Louise in Boyle’s terrific tale, which has some of the most stylish noir prose to grace the page in some time.
Deploying an inimitable tone that packs sardonic storytelling atop action and adventure, with a side of character development, Boyle’s voice works even when it feels like it shouldn’t. It’s just the right kind of too much.