People Like Her (2021) – Ellery Lloyd

Title:People Like Her
Author:Ellery Lloyd
Publisher/s:Pan Macmillan/Mantle
Date of publication:2021
Star Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐
Disclaimer:Pan Macmillan SA kindly sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Social media has pretty much infiltrated everyday life, and it’s almost a shock when the odd person admits that they’re actually not on Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, or Snapchat… These conversations are mostly relegated to the ultra-cool, or the tragically un-hip. One almost ceases to exist in today’s society without some sort of web presence.

Emmy Jackson is an Instagram sensation, an influencer, an Instamum. On Instagram, she calls herself Mamabare, and she spends her time on the platform dishing out advice on being a modern parent. Emmy shares everything with her followers, and that includes the life she shares with her husband Dan, and her children Coco and Bear.

Dan is a frustrated writer who is struggling to write his second novel and has never really understood Emmy’s life. Being the husband of Mamabare is affecting his work, and he feels strongly about keeping his children out of the spotlight, but without an income of his own does Dan really want to prevent his wife from providing for their family?

Emmy’s no-nonsense agent has Emmy constantly doing sponsored posts and attending publicity events, and even her client’s children’s birthday parties are an excuse for ‘shareable content’. Emmy’s job as an influencer includes answering an insurmountable number of private messages from her many followers and tagging herself in carefully curated selfies with a pod of fellow Instamums. Mamabare is known for her brutal and raw honesty about being a mum trying to do it all, and never making excuses for a house that is always strewn with toys, and always saying the right thing at the right time to the distraught parents that hang on her every word.

Despite the fact that her house is filled with free gifts, and she’s earning a substantial amount, Emmy knows that being Insta-famous is not sustainable. She’s also hiding a little secret from those that love to click the like button, and who wait breathlessly for her next post – Emmy is not as out of control and frazzled as she makes out to be. In fact, she knows exactly what she’s doing, and she will keep on doing just that until Mamabare’s fame runs out.

In the meantime, Emmy’s relationship with her family and her friends is starting to unravel. Without much prompting the reader questions Emmy’s sincerity, as she chooses over and over again to favor her followers and the Instamums over her best friend Polly and her own husband. Even her own mother has jumped onto the Instagram train and has her own modest following on the app as an InstaGran.

The novel is told from the perspectives of mostly Emmy, sometimes Dan, and occasionally from an unknown woman. This unknown person has been watching Emmy and her family, and she is convinced that Mamabare caused the death of her daughter and granddaughter. The reader has no idea until the very end just how exactly this desperate and deeply troubled woman is connected with Emmy Jackson. All the reader is witness to, is her disturbing thoughts as she keeps a close eye on the Jackson family.

The husband and wife writing team that make up the writing pseudonym Ellery Lloyd has written a novel that does not just serve as a warning about the dangers of being ‘too online’, or on revealing too much of yourself to perfect strangers, or the dark side of fame. People Like Her is also a very observant novel about how so often we lose aspects of ourselves when we are trying to create the right persona for other people. So desperate to be ‘liked’, Emmy Jackson becomes truly unlikable.

Within the pages of this slow-burn thriller, a woman is being closely watched and pursued by a potentially dangerous individual, and as she continues to share bits of her life to the tiny squares on her Instagram feed, she’s becoming less and less aware of who she once was. The dark side of fame? Sharing too much on social media with millions of strangers can sometimes end in tragedy. Are you ready to delete your account yet?

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