“To her adoring fans, Emmy Jackson, aka @the_mamabare, is the honest “Instamum” who always tells it like it is. To her skeptical husband, a washed-up novelist who knows just how creative Emmy can be with the truth, she is a breadwinning powerhouse chillingly brilliant at monetizing the intimate details of their family life. To one of Emmy’s dangerously obsessive followers, she’s the woman that has everything—but deserves none of it. As Emmy’s marriage begins to crack under the strain of her growing success and her moral compass veers wildly off course, the more vulnerable she becomes to a very real danger circling ever closer to her family.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd was my Book of the Month pick for December. Its expected publication is January 12, 2021.
The story follows Emmy and Dan, two “instaparents” known for sharing their lives on Instagram. Emmy is navigating her social media presence and about to introduce a new campaign for her brand as an “instamum” struggling to keep it together, when in reality she has everything under control and is only playing the part of being harried, stressed, etc. online to gain and keep followers. She uses her kids as props, mostly four-year-old Coco, to add to her daily content, which she plans out weeks in advance.
Dan begrudgingly acts as her assistant behind the scenes, but has his own insecurities about not earning any money for the family and putting Emmy’s life and career before his own. They don’t have any shared interests besides working to make Emmy’s Instagram as successful as it can be, and they don’t seem like a good match as a couple.
The story of how they met versus what really happened is pretty cringe-worthy. They were at a party and Dan thought Emmy was smiling at him to get his attention; in reality, she didn’t have her glasses on and couldn’t see a thing, plus she had a boyfriend at the time she didn’t tell him about. I didn’t think they were likable, but I was really only reading the story to find out who the mysterious stalker was and what would happen.
As it turns out, we learn pretty quickly who this person is. Without even knowing their full backstory, I already felt it was getting predictable. Who this person is and their intentions were revealed way too soon. The only mystery ended up being what exactly this person was going to do to Emmy and Dan’s kids in order to get back at them, something I am not interested in reading. The mystery for me was gone at that point.
There are a few things in this book that I think will be distracting for readers.
I question whether readers who aren’t as familiar with social media will be able to follow along with this story as well as others. Despite the endless over-explanation of Emmy’s every move online, I still don’t think it would be easy to follow if you don’t use Instagram. It seems like the authors thought that going into excessive detail would alleviate this problem but all it did was add unnecessary words to the story. It added a slowness that made each chapter drag on.
The main thing that distracted me, and this is a big one, is the narrative style and chapter lengths. The story is told through three perspectives: Emmy, Dan, and the stalker. Both Emmy and Dan’s sections have their name as the section heading, and yet the stalker does not.
The stalker’s sections are all in italics with no indication that they are now speaking. I don’t mean short snippets, a few sentences or a paragraph or two, I mean pages and pages of italics narration. The reader might think that this was done because the stalker was thinking these things, not saying them. Well, the majority of Emmy and Dan’s sections are also told in the “thinking, not saying” style. This book lacks dialogue almost entirely. Wouldn’t all of their sections then be in italics, in that case? Of course not, so why should the stalker’s be?
I would have liked to see chapter lengths that were more or less equal, divided up between Emmy, Dan, and Watcher, (or Follower, or a similar name that tells the reader they are now in the perspective of the stalker).
Due to the confusing nature of how the story was presented, the stalker being revealed so early in the story, the writing being choppy, the general slowness, and my dislike for the characters, I chose to stop reading. From what I can tell on Goodreads, a lot of people are loving this book which is great, but with the distractions increasing with each page, it wasn’t for me.