Soho. Nov. 2022. 264p. ISBN 9781641294003. $27. F
DEBUT Author of the acclaimed memoir Jell-O Girls, about her business-empire family, Rowbottom crafts a stunning debut novel featuring 18-year-old Anna, who wants to be an Instagram star. She has followers but needs an agent to help boost her numbers, so she moves to Los Angeles. There, Instagram star Jake Alton takes her on as a client and a bedfellow, increasing her following significantly. He lures her on a little at a time, suggesting Botox, implants, and nose jobs. Along the way she becomes addicted to the drugs Jake provides. Each of these changes seem to boost her numbers but never propels her into the top tier. A big deal opportunity surfaces and Anna takes the bait, only to discover that her Instagram persona is expected to deliver more than simple influence. This causes her to rethink her goals, and at age 35 she decides to undo all the cosmetic enhancements so she can and live life as her true self.
VERDICT Rowbottom’s focus on second chances, true love, and self-awareness rings true as she calls out the image making and image makers of social media, and readers of a broad range of contemporary fiction will enjoy. Highly recommended.
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