Grant’s (Getting Ahead, 2014, etc.) novel tackles social media and its impact on real people.
Allie is an attractive woman with a nice home, a successful husband, and a supportive group of friends. That is, if you consider her “friends” on the Facebook-like site AboutFace to be more than virtual acquaintances. Though she has known most of her circle since high school, their interactions lean more toward status updates and snarky comments than deep conversations. It’s a fact that annoys her husband, Marcus, to no end. As he tells his wife, “You can’t read about someone’s life and click favorite and make one-sentence comments and call that a friendship. You just can’t.” The question is simple, even if the answer is not: just how well do these people really know each other? The book attacks our world of constant though limited interaction head-on, exploring characters ranging from hotshot PR man Jake to deeply religious, Bible-quoting Tiffany (sample status update: “ ‘Every place where you set your foot will be yours.’ Deuteronomy 11:24”). Grant also takes on hot topics like the addictive qualities of a constantly buzzing smartphone and the effects of seeing only the carefully curated positive aspects of other people’s lives (e.g., an expensive new home). Though the narrative can be heavy-handed at times—there’s even a right-wing friend who posts articles about “how we all need to arm ourselves and hunker down before the government turns us into slaves”—the characters for the most part emerge as genuine and familiar. After all, we all know someone who can’t seem to put her phone down, someone who gives “the impression she couldn’t live without her social network.” Maybe it’s even you.
A perceptive, inviting look at the thornier aspects of constant instant communication.