In the last year I have read several novels that feature Instagram influencers, like Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner. Ellery Lloyd's People Like Her takes influencer culture to a whole new level and I found the book both fascinating and shocking. I'm late to the party when it comes to Instagram & none of my knowledge of it is first hand. But on its predecessor, Facebook, I've seen how people can over-idealize their lives and make themselves seem perfect. I've had to hide some friends' feeds because my frustration was just too high; seeing their choreographed posts that looked like a lifestyle magazine made me irrationally angry and that had to stop. "You're not a person anymore. You're just a phony caption and a posed photo." That line from the novel stood out to me because I've felt that way, both about some friends and even about myself. When I catch myself planning Facebook posts about moments in my life as I am living them - well, that's not good. And that phenomenon is just one element tackled in this brilliant novel.
People Like Her is written by a husband/wife team (Ellery Lloyd is a pseudonym) and there are three unreliable narrators. First is Emmy, an Instagram influencer with the handle "Mamabare". She is the breadwinner of the family, making money solely off all her Instagram posts about mothering, and the endorsements and side jobs she gets because of her influencer status. Dan, her husband, is a novelist whose first book was successful but now he can't seem to finish his second. He is at once jealous and horrified with Emmy's success, and scared of who she has become. The last narrator is an unnamed stalker whose story is revealed slowly. We know she lost her daughter and granddaughter and we know she blames Emmy, but we have to wait a while to find out why. Most importantly, we know she intends to cause Emmy untold suffering, something worse than having her child kidnapped, which this character could have done towards the beginning of the book. But she didn't because she decided that kidnapping Emmy's daughter would not make Emmy suffer enough.
The overriding theme of the novel is how the internet can steal a person's soul. And it's become quite apparent that Emmy has lost her humanity when she betrays her best friend. Yet, it's Emmy's work as an influencer that brings in money ad takes care of her family. In addition, Emmy provides hope, comfort, and community for roughly a million mothers, and without complaint she deals with internet trolls who threaten her and her children. So there are two sides.
My favorite part of the book was how all three main characters were deeply flawed, and Emmy and Dan were especially selfish, yet I couldn't hate any of them. I was always on their side when reading their chapters. Also, the suspense builds in a slow, burning way and it has great payout at the end with amazing characters arcs. This novel is skilled in every way and super entertaining. I wish I could read it again for the first time!
I highly recommend People Like Her
My Book Reviews
I love novels! My favorite genres are high-end women's fiction, suspense, and psychological thrillers, but occasionally I'll also pick up some chick lit or YA. I mostly read books on my kindle, and I also listen to audio books every morning when I go for my run.