Opening sentence: “I sit and wait for her, my feet swinging under the bench.”
To say 35-year-old Jenny McLaine is obsessed with social media is an understatement. When we meet her she is doing important work: “I am creating a social media post about a croissant that I am pretty sure will define me as a human.”
This contemporary, funny, tongue-in-cheek tale explores the complex relationship Jenny has with her smartphone, her flamboyant, actress mother and her friends. She works for a digital feminist magazine, owns her own place in London and has a cool photographer boyfriend, so on paper, she’s doing OK. But in this digital-led world, she is full of self doubt as her priorities are warped towards the digital representation of her life. She craves approval from her Instagram icon, influencer Suzy Brambles, “Suzy Brambles only posts in black and white. This is because she has real integrity.”
There are echoes of Fleabag in this book’s wit and tone (“I always feel better about buying wine when the bottle has art on it. It’s classy bingeing.”) and that’s always going to be a hit with me. I did like the fact that Jenny writes emails (but only as drafts) to the people that piss her off – her version of the imaginary arguments people have in the shower – as a cathartic (and very funny) release.
She is a pretty self-involved character, at many points tipping into narcissism. However, this didn’t annoy me as it is balanced nicely by the fact she is just trying to figure out who she should be when she’s not creating content for the squares.
I liked its kind of diary entry structure which added a personal element and actually, structure-wise, it reminded me of Not Working by Lisa Owens and topically it’s not dissimilar to How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne – both highly enjoyable reads, so these were nice comparisons to have while reading.
This was such a funny, witty read with topical, satirical-tinged commentary on navigating our digitally-soaked era.
/ Published by The Borough Press 30th January 2020
/ 400 pages