My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Very entertaining and thought provoking read.
I unfortunately picked the ending from almost the very beginning. There was one sentence and it gave the whole thing away in my opinion – so that did detract from the overall experience, because I was just waiting for the reveal.
The characters were solid, and I thought that the online social side of the story was done really well from a use perspective. Although, I question the use of a blog by a teen – but with that set aside, the use of the mother’s blog entry up against the child’s entry, was fantastic.
I felt that Beth wasn’t a terrible mother, but her ideas of protecting her children from the repercussions of their actions wasn’t explored quite enough – and this is a POV issue when writing from only a couple of character’s POV. It’s also a timely topic, when mental health is an issue we want our children discussing, but as this story shows – only if it isn’t their own.
The idea that parents were only judging each other from Beth’s experience came to a wonderfully ironic end in my opinion. And her daughters were the exact personality types I would expect from the character described.
Sophie has a difficult character, and I think the author did very well in the insights she provided when looking at the world from Sophie’s POV. Her spiral into depression and the isolation from her peers was scary, because I think we can all identify with it in some ways – and to apply that to our own children’s lives and how little we see below the surface is a hard thing to consider.
The complete lack of motive is what really annoyed me at the end. That there is zero indication as to why the sisters had that dynamic. No flashback, no deeper level. I feel like there’s an incredibly clever layer to the story that’s been missed.
There are also no parental repercussions, and Beth’s blog that at first I thought was clever – fizzled, to the point where what she was writing, I couldn’t even understand why it was included. In a way this is realistic because our online identities portray only the best of us I guess is the point, but for Beth’s blog to have been used so heavily in the first half of the novel, it’s a shame it wasn’t used as a continual device.
My other final annoyance is that the three main characters had zero character development. Andi, Sophie, Dan, even Steven who we read all of seven words from (exaggeration), had some type of development. Beth, Lucy and Charlotte though – have none.
Charlotte is not remorseful, she is not a nice person and she never says sorry. Lucy, we never know anyway, so there is nothing to develop. Beth continues on as if everything she has been told about her daughter is wrong, fights with her husband and partner over his own thoughts, and despite Drew alluding to her blog being a spin – Beth never completely realises this to its conclusion.
However, I have obviously enjoyed it enough to critique it to this extent! And it was such a great experience to read this story, that those annoyances really get to me because there was so much more I could have potentially read.
Highly recommend parents with pre-teens to late-teens to have a read. I think it provides a really good insight in social media for that age-group. Especially about how it relates to their real lives.