Author: Gillian Harvey
Overview from Goodreads:
Jessica Bradley has it all: the perfect boyfriend; influential healthy-eating blog; successful PR company and wonderful daughter, Anna. Or at least that is what her thousands of followers believe.
The truth is, her boyfriend just broke up with her in four words on a post-it; her zest for healthy-eating has all but disappeared; her PR success is all reliant on her now not-so-honest online-life and she just got caught eating her daughter’s Coco-Pops.
So as they say: fake it ’til you make it. A few little white lies and phoney smiling selfies and Jess can keep up appearances. But when her real-life starts to spiral out of control how can Jess tell the truth from the lies? And will she be able to seize real happiness when it is right in front of her?
Hilarious, heart-warming and oh-so relatable, prepare to fall in love with Jessica Bradley’s search for happiness. Perfect for fans of Louise Pentland, Anna Bell and Lindsey Kelk.
A story about an influencer was the perfect concept in this day and age where your online presence doesn’t always reflect your reality. Jessica is in her early 30s and is a blogger with her Fit at 30 site. She also utilizes Instagram and Twitter to complete her online persona and also help promote her PR company, Star PR. On the surface, she seems to have it all with a healthy eating regime and a constant gym presence while balancing a hot relationship with Dave, a fellow gym junkie who goes to the gym almost daily. She has an early teens daughter, Anna, that splits her time between staying with Jessica and her ex-husband Grahame, who is married to Tabitha and together they have two boys.
As Jessica finds the daily struggle of projecting a certain self and living it, she finds that maybe it might be too much pressure to put on herself. She meets Robert, her new writer client, that wrote about embracing your inner child. While reading his book, Jessica is able to give letting go a try – you’d have to read the book to see if she decides to embrace the concept or if gives it up.
The novel itself is a fantastic story where you giggle along to the embarrassing events that happen to our main character. It has many hilarious moments and some heart-warming ones, too. The social media side of the story gave an amazing incite to something that you wouldn’t think about normally. You could visit a blog to gain motivation and not realize the writer doesn’t practice what they preach or you could look at a photo online with someone who is all smiles, but is secretly sad. It shows that everything online might not always be what it seems. Of course, it doesn’t mean that everything you read and see if false, but it just means to take everything with a grain of salt.
The characters are all well-written and serve their purposes in the story. The ones that need more backstory are granted some tales from their past and those that are there to serve as side characters have just enough mentioned so you can imagine the novel playing out in your mind. It’s a job well-done by the author!
There are two major issues that I had with this novel – Jessica’s weight and WhatsApp. Jessica is described as being a UK size 8/10 (~US size 6/8) when she’s at her fit self, but then she’s almost written like she’s a whale when she becomes a size 14 (~US size 11/12). She is very self-conscious of her weight, but I don’t understand how it can be such constant negativity when it’s not even into the plus-size category yet. (She’d still be considered thin by today’s standards whether in the UK or the US as she’s still smaller than a lot of the population). I realize that to some people a gained pound can seem like 100, but I feel it’s not a good message for Jessica not to have some realization that no matter who tells her that she’s now fat, that she doesn’t think about it for a few seconds and see that she may be bigger than she was, but she hasn’t become fat yet. I’m sure others will disagree and won’t think anything of it, but as a person that’s bigger than Jessica, I can’t relate. (I’ve ranged in size from US6 to above US18 my whole life and no matter my size, I never thought like her). My other issue came from WhatsApp. It is a constant crux mentioned throughout the entire novel between Jessica and Anna. I’m not sure if it’s the author not understanding fully the app’s main purpose or if it’s a conscious decision as Jessica claims to be a “dinosaur with technology,” but it just didn’t add up. Anna is banned from downloading and using WhatsApp to use to message her friends, but she is allowed to use Instagram and to create a blog. Try as I might, I couldn’t wrap my brain around this as Instagram can have a far greater negative mental impact on a child than WhatsApp so I couldn’t understand even in the slightest why a mother would say okay to one and not the other (I had to ask my own mother about this and some other mothers too and no one was able to figure it out). I use both Instagram and Whatsapp and I couldn’t comprehend the difference for why you would ban one over the other.
I loved the beginning and middle of this story, but ended fairly abruptly for me. I realized I was about 99% reading in my Kindle yet I felt there should have been more space dedicated to the wrap up. I didn’t expect a full explanation about every single detail for how it all turned out, but it just would’ve been nice to have more. It’s an indication that I enjoyed the book as I didn’t want it to end!
Overall, I thought the concept of the book was fantastic. The central theme of influencer culture was well-written and very enjoyable to not only read, but learn more about. I thought Jessica was a very relatable protagonist as she was a normal person just struggling to keep up with everything life threw at her. She tried to balance her online presence, her company (the workplace itself and its clients), her romantic life, motherhood, and just generally trying to get by. It was an impressive debut novel by the author! Although I had a few things that I didn’t agree with in the book, they never took away from the overall story. It was a pleasure to read this novel and I will definitely check out any of the future works by this author.
**Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**