It turns out I did read The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms (Amazon) (AbeBooks). I thought I hadn’t; that’s how big of an impression the book made on me. I rated it three stars. It’s not my favorite genre to read. But loads of other people liked it, so what does my opinion matter in the end. The Bright Side of Going Dark (Amazon) (AbeBooks) had a much more compelling story: disconnecting from social media and living your life to the fullest. It was also only $1.99 on Kindle and a few bucks more for the audiobook, so I pulled the trigger.
From the bestselling author of The Overdue Life of Amy Byler comes a fresh, funny, and thoughtful story about going off the grid in order to truly live.
“As one of the most popular influencers on social media, Mia Bell has lived her life online for years. With her celebrity dog and gorgeous fiancé, she is planning the ultimate virtual wedding—expensive, elaborate, and entirely paid for by sponsors. But off-camera, her world is far from picture perfect. After being jilted by her fiancé and faking her nuptials to please her sponsors, Mia finally has had enough. She heaves her phone off a cliff, ready to live—and maybe find love—offline for a change.
Mia’s sudden absence doesn’t go unnoticed, especially by techie loner Paige Miller, who hacks Mia’s account and begins impersonating the internet celebrity. Paige has her reasons. Her half sister, Jessica, idolizes Mia and desperately needs something to believe in. If taking over Mia’s online persona is Paige’s only means of connecting to her sister, so be it.
Creating a like-worthy life is more fun than Paige expected. But when she grows too bold and is caught in the act, a fiasco ensues that could forever change Mia, Paige, and the people who love them. Because somewhere amid the chaos is an invaluable lesson—one that only real life can teach.”
I had a really hard time connecting with Mia, the social media influencer, because her world is entirely about how her life looks to others. She’s so busy staging her life in pictures that she doesn’t actually seem to live a good life. In general, I don’t follow social media influencers because I know it’s all one big ad for their sponsors. I’m consumer savvy enough to not believe the majority of what a product company wants us to believe. I rely on consumer reviews, advice from friends and family, and first-hand experience with products to know if they’re worth it or not. I also don’t follow the latest trends on social media and in general tune them out. So Mia’s world is not part of my world. Yet when she decides to unplug and reevaluate her life after being jilted at the alter, I found some empathy for her. She soon begins to blossom in a world where clicks and likes don’t rule her world.
Paige works for the social media platform Pictey, the one Mia uses, in the standards department. She’s one of many in charge of evaluating flagged pictures to see if they break platform standards. At first glance, Paige isn’t the sort of person who should have the job she has with her history of depression. But Pictey’s managers are constantly checking on their employees’ physical and mental health because of the nature of Paige’s job.
It’s Paige who notices when Mia’s account goes dark. And that means less traffic on Pictey’s account. Paige realizes this could be a huge problem and decides to solve it herself by hacking into Mia’s account and begins impersonating her. Soon enough she realizes what hard work it is to be an influencer with hundreds of thousands of fans.
Meanwhile, she’s also reconnecting with a much younger sister who tried to kill herself and is in the hospital. Paige is alerted to this because her sister posted a suicide message on Mia’s account but missed it; someone else in the company flagged the post and called the authorities. Paige is wracked with guilt because she missed this post, but decides to rectify it by helping her sister. Paige wants to tell her that she did the same thing at her age, and that their mother is like an albatross who just sticks her head in the sand. Paige has to come out of her comfort zone to be more like a mother to her sister.
The whole time I listened to this book, I thought of my oldest teenage daughter, who seems to live on Snapchat and Instagram and needs frequent reminders to walk away from social media for a while each day. This seems like a light-hearted book, but really, there are some serious issues presented in a palatable format. There’s mental illness, self-doubt, panic attacks, cyber bullying, phone obsession, comparing one’s self to others, thinking you’re not enough, all through the lens of social media. It’s all the stuff we’re supposed to navigate through middle and high school and college, yet in today’s world, many adults haven’t figured out. It’s worth a read if you struggle with a social media/life balance.
This is the 27th Audiobook I’ve listened to as part of my 2021 Audiobook Challenge.
For more reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com
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