I saw this book on a list of ‘ books to look out for in 2021’ by Emma Gannon on The Bookshop (coincidentally a great place to source books if you want the convenience of online shopping, but would to avoid ‘that’ retailer and support a local bookshop at the same time). So I asked NetGalley for an advanced review copy and my wish was granted #earlyChristmaspresenttome.
I hadn’t read the blurb once I’d seen that as well as Emma, the author Clare Mackintosh had also recommended it, and wondered on the context of the potentially homophonic sentence. Did ‘People Like Her’ mean ‘People Love Her’ or ‘People Similar To Her’. It would appear it could mean both, as here’s the blurb:
“People like Emmy Jackson. They always have. Especially online, where she is Instagram sensation Mamabare, famous for always telling the unvarnished truth about modern parenthood.
But Emmy isn’t as honest as she’d like the fans to believe. She may think she has her followers fooled, but someone out there knows the truth and plans to make her pay. Because people like her have no idea what pain careless words can cause. Because people like her need to learn what it feels like to lose everything.”
I also, then, checked out the author – and it’s a combined husband and wife writing team – which I thought could be very interesting.
When I had my first kids, Instagram wasn’t a thing at all (shocking, I know!) and in fact ‘Mummy blogs’ were only just a thing. I remember being super impressed when one of the school Mums in our village was featured in Red Magazine as one of these new fangled Mummy bloggers in probably 2008ish. In the subsequent decade those sharing an opinion – and making a living from this opinion – on parenting has ballooned – particularly on Instagram, and that is the whole premise of this book.
Emmy has contrived to be an InstaMum – with her posse of fellow InstaMums, selling their views on parenthood. Emmy brands herself as being ‘honest’ – but this is definitely for the Mamabare brand – and not what really goes on behind closed doors. Her husband, Dan, is an author – although his last published success was many years before – and so, whilst he doesn’t necessarily agree with all of Emmy’s actions, he also recognises that it pays the mortgage for them.
The book is told from the point of view of Emmy, Dan and a third person who is obsessed with Emmy and blames her for something awful. (I did wonder if the husband and wife author team wrote as Dan and Emmy respectively – and who wrote the third voice? Who knows!)
There are also other characters – Emmy and Dan’s children, Coco and Bear (such Instagram friendly names – you can imagine them up in lights already). Emmy’s mother – who has branded herself as an InstaGran (yep, there are loads!). Emmy’s best friend, then her agent, their new nanny, Emmy’s new PA and, of course, her ‘pod’ of fellow InstaMums. All of the characters are very different – and very well written – many could be someone you know (or someone you follow and feel like you know!).
I have to say that none of the main characters were particularly likeable – I thought I was Team Dan for a while – but not 100%! However this lack of likeability wasn’t an issue – and kind of drove the story forward.
There are some huge twists and turns, and some great red herrings – and there is a real pace to the book – I devoured it really quickly. It’s a thriller – but also a fabulous social commentary. It’s very clever, very well written and a great read.
I have a feeling it will be a little too close to the bone for some in the InstaMum community – but for mere mortals, is a great read. And I LOVED the epilogue and ending.
A massive thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my advance review copy – and I would highly recommend you pre order it for when it’s released in January 2021 – we all need something to look forward to. Let’s hope for more #yaydays than #greydays in 2021!! #injoke