Shame on You by Amy Heydenrych

Review published on August 12, 2018.

As a result of her healthy living blog, which describes how she has beaten cancer by following a vegan diet, using natural remedies and meditating, Holly has become a social-media sensation. She has become the face of clean eating: everyone loves her, everyone wants to be her. Having been bullied at school she is revelling in the new life she has created for herself. All the online followers she has attracted, and her new-found celebrity status finally make her feel loved and accepted. However, she has a dark secret and is aware that if it is exposed it will ruin her image. When she is attacked by a man she’s only just met, her life starts to spiral out of control. Was she targeted because of her online celebrity, or is her past catching up with her. He seemed to know her – but she doesn’t know him. Or does she? What she does know is that he seems intent on making her life intolerable. As she begins to recover from the attack her life starts to spiral out of control and people begin to question who she really is.

It soon becomes clear that Holly and Tyler, the two main characters, whose alternating narratives carry the story, are complex and flawed people who are not particularly likeable – there were certainly times when I wanted to shake each of them. However, the gradual revelations about their troubled backgrounds did occasionally arouse my empathy so the author’s understanding of how social and psychological pressures affect people’s behaviour was impressive and used to good effect!

Although there were moments of genuine tension in this dark, disturbing and fast-moving story, I thought that there was far too much repetition about the negative effects social media can have on people’s lives. For me, the “lectures” had a “groundhog-day” feel to them, often having the effect of interrupting the developing tension in a story which is described by the publisher as “an addictive psychological thriller”. However, the topical themes about some of the dangers of an obsession with social media, of caring too much about what other people say about you, of living a life online, particularly if the online life is based on lies, would make this an interesting choice for reading groups.

Linda Hepworth 3/4

Shame on You by Amy Heydenrych
Twenty7 9781785770944 pbk Jul 2018

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