on July 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I was initially drawn to Hello, Sunshine because of its vibrant summery cover but wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I actually sat down to read it. What I got was a timely, relevant, and thought-provoking exploration of how people present themselves online in this age of technology and social media.
Sunshine MacKenzie seems to have it all – a loving husband, a gorgeous apartment in Manhattan, and a wildly successful YouTube cooking show with millions of followers that will soon transition to an even bigger audience once it starts airing on the Food Network. As perfect as Sunshine’s life sounds, it soon becomes clear that her life is actually more along the lines of a house of cards just waiting to be toppled over and trampled on. You see, Sunshine’s entire online persona is just that – a persona. Everything that her fanbase loves about her and that has made her such a success is nothing but a pack of lies. A pack of lies that Sunshine and her associates have successfully kept under wraps, or so they thought. When Sunshine’s social media accounts are hacked and the hacker starts unraveling her life one lie at a time, her entire life and career fall apart right in front of her and no amount of PR damage control can stop the bleeding. Sunshine loses her show, most of her followers, her husband, and her home, and ends up fleeing to her real hometown and to her estranged sister.
The rest of the book follows Sunshine as she tries to figure out what to do next. Is there’s a way to get her old life back or will reuniting with her sister and spending some quality time with her family, away from the media frenzy, set Sunshine on a different path? Will she decide there’s more to life than fame, fans, and the stress of trying to maintain an appealing online persona?
I think what I liked most about Hello, Sunshine was just how relevant the book’s central premise is, that so many people are not being authentic when they are online. Just as Sunshine has an online persona that has been crafted and scripted for her, there are many who aren’t even in show business who portray themselves as how they want to be perceived online, even if it’s completely contrary to what their life is actually like. It’s something I think about whenever I see someone online who just seems like their life is picture perfect in every way. Life is too messy for things to always appear that perfect, if that makes any sense. Or I might even think of it in terms of myself – how do others know if I’m being authentic or if I’m, in essence, putting on a show for them by being what I think they want me to be.
Hello, Sunshine also made me think about how vulnerable we really are if we’ve put ourselves out there on social media – how easily accounts can be hacked and someone’s life can be turned upside down if they happen to make the wrong person angry.
In addition to being a thought-provoking read about social media and authenticity, Hello, Sunshine is also just an entertaining read as well. All of the drama that surrounded Sunshine’s fall from grace kept me engaged throughout and I kept thinking what a great movie it would be. Desperate Housewives kept coming to mind as I was reading.
As fake as her online persona is, the Sunshine we’re presented with is brutally honest and she’s dying to give us a blow-by-blow account of how she royally messed up her own life. If you like that kind of personality, Sunshine is very likable and you’ll want to follow her journey and see where she went wrong at every step along the way.
My main dislike is that I figured out who the hacker was almost immediately. I kept hoping I was wrong and that there would be a huge surprise revealed, but my first guess ended up being correct so that was kind of a letdown for me. I also didn’t buy the hacker’s reasoning for doing what they did, so that slightly hampered what was otherwise a very enjoyable read. Hello, Sunshine was still a solid LIKE for me, but a little less predictability and a little more believability here would moved it from the LIKE column into the LOVE column.
If you’re looking for a quick and entertaining read that still manages to be quite thought-provoking, I’d say Hello, Sunshine fits the bill. I think it would make for a great beach or vacation read.
RATING: 3.5 STARS
From Laura Dave—the author of the “addictive” (Us Weekly), “winning” (Publishers Weekly) and critically acclaimed bestseller Eight Hundred Grapes—comes a new novel about the secrets we keep…even from ourselves.
Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.
Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.
And then she gets hacked.
When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.
In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age.