After I write this review, I will immediately go to Instagram to post a #bookstagram picture that I took to link with this review. Then, I'll go to Twitter and also link to this spot. I'll do this so quickly, so instinctively, that it will require very little thought to accomplish it. That's how integrated social media is into my life. And that, "Hello Sunshine" argues, may not always be a good thing.
I didn't expect this novel to make me think. I had it pegged as an easy beach read (which, to be clear, it still is), which would deliver a good story but not necessarily anything to take away. That was the pleasant surprise here.
"Hello Sunshine" follows Sunshine Mackenzie, a YouTube vlogger and soon-to-be Food Network personality. She has it all, including a super cute husband and a home in NYC that has been featured in Architectural Digest. But within the first few pages of the book (no real spoiler here), Sunshine loses it all. I'll leave how it happens and all the rest to your reading, but safe to say it isn't a pretty unraveling she experiences. It is from rock bottom that the rest of the novel moves forward, with Sunshine attempting to rebuild a life she barely recognizes as her own.
What is at the center of Sunshine's struggles is authenticity. In a world where social media dominates our lives, her quest to find fame has led her to "curate" a life that is less than an accurate portrayal of her story. And haven't we all done this? How often do we pull out our iPhone and start to take a candid shot, only to realize the light isn't right, or the dishes haven't been washed, or a thousand other things. How often do we spend fifteen minutes staging a picture that we will later hashtag #everydaylife or try to pass off as a true reflection of our day to day life? How do these little social media white lies affect us and the people who view them? All of these questions play out in Sunshine's story.
Credit to Laura Dave for not writing a chick lit story that was all fluff and no meat. She did a great job of leaving us with something to think about and potentially improve in our own lives. I know she made me think.
On the less sunshiny side, I will briefly mention that I found a lot of the characters to be unlovable. The majority of them were either angry or disillusioned or both. One side character, Ethan, who befriends Sunshine in her time of need, is such a lousy guy (having an affair, three kids with three moms and admittedly a lousy father to at least one of them) that I just couldn't get on board with any part of the story that involved him. Generally, the lack of a supporting character who I could root for took away from my love of the book. Also, all the characters had no problem dropping F-bombs and more. Which just felt unnecessary.
Overall, this book is the perfect beach read. It is a well written, quick read that was satisfying because it delivered what I would expect of it and maybe even a little more. An interesting story with just enough twists to keep me turning, plus a little thought-provoking life message.
Now let me post this so I can get on over to Instagram ; )
Read this if: You've been looking for some good chick lit or if you love novels centered around the food scene
Don't read this if: You don't do profanity or are NOT looking for something easy-breezy