ARC Review: Hello, Sunshine
on July 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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.
That’s a bummer the hacker is obvious from the start. Besides that, it does sound like a timely read!
ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton
It was obvious for me, which was definitely a bummer, but hopefully it won’t be obvious for everyone who reads it. Otherwise, yeah it was timely and gave me a lot to think about, which is always good.
I really love this cover, it’s so fun! I like the idea behind the story, too. You’re right, it is so relevant today. It’s too bad it was a bit predictable, but I think I’d still pick this up if I needed a light read.
Isn’t the cover amazing? Yeah, it’s actually probably one of the more relevant and timely stories I’ve read lately. I was bummed about guessing correctly on the hacker but would still recommend it as a good solid read and a quick one. I still want to read her novel, Eight Hundred Grapes. I’ve heard nothing but great things about that one, especially once it was on my radar after reading this one.
The cover of this one was the initial draw for me too, along with the fact that I liked a previous book by her. Glad to hear it was good. I like the theme of reconnecting w/ family to find out what’s truly important (Eight Hundred grapes was like that too), along with the vulnerability to hacking issue and the the fact that it’s just entertaining! Definitely adding this one.
This does sound like it would make a good movie too. 🙂
Greg Hill recently posted…On The Run Part III
I still really want to read Eight Hundred Grapes. It actually sounds like it would appeal to me even more than this book did. I hope you enjoy it when you read it!
Too bad you solved it early on. I do like that it tackles social media. Great review!
kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Yes, the social media aspect of it was definitely my favorite part. It gave me so much to think about.
The idea of real life versus online life is becoming a popualr theme in books and I am enjoying them all immensely. I shall have to add this to the list — I liek too what you siad about sunshine being so honest. I think I’d appreciate that!
sydneyeditor1 recently posted…And Fire Came Down: Why aren’t you reading this?
The real life vs. online life theme fascinates me too, especially since I’m always meeting and interacting with new people online. It’s just so relevant to me. I liked Sunshine’s honesty a lot. It was kind of funny how brutally honest she really was considering most of her life was a lie.