Monday, November 6, 2017

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

I borrowed the book because the premise of "social media star falls from grace" to be really interesting. But be warned, this will be a spoiler-full review.

The 'Sunshine' in Hello, Sunshine is a social media star. Her cooking videos have earned her millions of fans, a book deal, and even a TV show. But one day (mild spoilers), someone hacks her and her whole life is revealed to be a lie: her recipes are by someone else, her entire origin story is fake, and she slept with someone who isn't her husband. As a result, her fans desert her, her husband leaves, and she loses the book and TV deal. Humiliated and friendless, Sunshine goes back to her hometown in the Hamptons, to the sister that hates her and the niece she never knew.

The story is written in the first person, from Sunshine's perspective, so if you like her voice, you'll probably like the book. I did like Sunshine, and I was rooting for her to finally acknowledge her part in what happened and to let go of the social media stuff (it took a while because Sunshine plotted to get back to Internet stardom)

Most of the book is what you expect, with Sunshine being 'forced' to face her past and attempt to reconcile with her sister, as well as decide what she really wants from life. For the most part, it's an easy and predictable read (which is good when you're stressed about packing and all you want is something light) and the only time I was blindsided was when the twist came.

And the twist really angered me so SPOILERS AHEAD.

It turns out that the person who hacked Sunshine and outed her was her husband (the one who left her when he 'found out' about her affair) and he did it because he 'loved' her.

And at the end of the book, she goes back to him.

Without him apologising (or if he did it was such a weak apology that I did not recognise it).

Can we talk about how messed up this is?

Yes, Sunshine was wrapped up in her lies at the start of the book and desperately needed to change, but the way to change someone is not to maliciously, deliberately, and publicly humiliate and destroy them. The book makes it clear the hacking isn't an amateur job - Sunshine's team changes the passwords and her husband has to get around that + build a website + schedule tweets to seem innocent to make this work. And he's supposedly the architect who's not into technology.

Which means that it was a well-thought-out plan. In all that time, he couldn't think of a better way to help Sunshine, such as getting her to therapy or TALKING TO HER ABOUT IT? (The book is clear that he was nothing but supportive outwardly while planning her downfall).

This is like if I tell you my house has cockroaches and instead of starting with cockroach traps, you take a match and burn down the house (without telling me)

What makes me angry about this is that it is presented as 'love'. No, this is not love. This is not a drastic intervention. Her husband basically destroyed her life and left her alone (apparently he called her sister a few times but to Sunshine, he was completely absent) and she still went back to him because she was pregnant and loves him.


This is not love but it's being presented as such and I worry that others will read the book and internalise the wrong message. No one should be allowed to hurt someone else in the name of love. To be clear, this is different from telling someone the painful truth or staging an intervention - that may be painful but it is like antiseptic on a wound, not burning a house down because cockroaches were found. One is necessary and the other isn't.

To be honest, I was really enjoying the book until the ending. It was a solid 4 stars and probably would have stayed that way if the ending was different, but this portrayal of 'love' has dropped it to a 1 star rating.

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