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LIFE WITHOUT IT by Sara Marzougui

LIFE WITHOUT IT

By Sara Marzougui

Pub Date: April 10th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1470112929
Publisher: CreateSpace

A group of young 20-somethings navigate love and friendship with the help—and hindrance—of the latest smartphone and social networking technology.

Fresh on the New York dating scene, Dalinda is ready for a new start and, with some prodding from her sophisticated, BlackBerry-wielding friends, a new phone. Mandy, Dalinda’s best friend, is slow to adopt the new technology, but when she does, a full-blown cellphone addiction is born. So when Dalinda agrees to a bet that has her giving up her phone for 40 days, how will the girls and their various paramours maintain their newly phone-dependent friendship? The stakes in Marzougui’s debut novel are as high as they would be among any insulated American high school clique: Why isn’t she texting me back? What did he mean by that Facebook poke? How will I know what to wear to the party if he hasn’t replied to that BBM? Unfortunately, it’s never quite clear who’s the main protagonist; the perspective shifts, sometimes mid-sentence, from Dalinda to Mandy to Jason to Lilly to Steve to Courtney to Wendy, and so on, in what seems like a comprehensive recitation of a Facebook friend list. Over the course of the novel, though, the lack of distinction between characters hardly matters; it turns out, perhaps unintentionally, that the main player is not a person at all, but social networking itself. For a story about the fluidity of text messaging, the dialogue is oddly stilted, as the nonlinear plot dramatizes the weblike narrative of contemporary life. While the flatness of the characters may make it difficult to sympathize with any of them, their reliance upon technology will be instantly and probably a bit sheepishly recognizable.

A thin, whirlwind story of modern love: It’s complicated.