Book Review: Not Your #Lovestory by Sonia Hartl
#PlaneBae meets Gilmore Girls in this hilarious and heartfelt story about the addictiveness of Internet fame and the harsh realities of going viral.
Macy Evans dreams of earning enough income from her YouTube channel, R3ntal Wor1d, to leave her small, Midwestern town. But when she meets a boy named Eric at a baseball game, and accidently dumps her hotdog in his lap, her disastrous “meet-cute” becomes the topic of a viral thread. Now it’s not loyal subscribers flocking to her channel, it’s Internet trolls. And they aren’t interested in her reviews of VHS tapes—they only care about her relationship with Eric.
Eric is overly eager to stretch out his fifteen minutes of fame, but Macy fears this unwanted attention could sabotage her “real-life” relationships—namely with the shy boy-next-door, Paxton, who she’s actually developing feelings for. Macy knows she should shut the lie down, though she can’t ignore the advertising money, or the spark she gets in her chest whenever someone clicks on her videos. Eric shouldn’t be the only one allowed to reap the viral benefits. But is faking a relationship for clicks and subscribers worth hurting actual people?
The following is just a short list of things I’m a total sucker for: Rom-coms, meet-cutes, 80s/90s movies, Say Anything (see the very end of this post), interesting family dynamics, stories set at a workplace, and stories set in small towns. Truly. Give me any of those and I’m in. Give me ALL of those? And you’ve given me this book.
Macy is 18 and lives with her mom, who is 35 and a full-time waitress, and her grandma. They barely make ends meet and rely on bartering in their small town to get most of their goods and services. Macy’s dream is to scrape together enough income from her YouTube channel reviewing “old” movies to move to Chicago in a year or so. Until then, she works at a combination video store and repair shop. Now, you might say, really? A video store? Yes—and not just DVDS, but many of the movies are on VHS. Look, I grew up in a tiny rural town. There’s nothing to do and if anywhere is going to have the last VHS-rental store on Earth, it’s going to be some tiny town. So I buy it.
Macy’s world becomes bigger, at least virtually speaking, when videos and a tweet thread go viral. In them, Macy and Eric, a guy she randomly sat by at a baseball game and accidentally dumped her food on, appear to have fallen in love at this game and hooked up in the bathroom. As with so many observed stories, stories told by people other than who they happened to, there is very little truth to this. However, after initially feeling furious at both the invasion of her privacy and Eric (who is still a total stranger to her), who is playing along with this great love story, Macy sees how this could benefit her. Her videos are suddenly wildly popular and she just may be able to earn enough from them to really support her family and save to eventually leave. But playing along means not just selling out, but hurting the people who know the real Macy.
And you know what? Big whatever to Macy and Eric. We see right away that he’s a manipulative jerk and while Macy may get something out of playing along, readers aren’t going to root for them to end up together. Now Macy and Paxton… that’s a different story. Her coworker is cute, funny, sweet, and loves Say Anything. But he also seems to be hiding something. And there’s the fact that Macy’s mom has made her swear to never date a coworker.
Hartl does an excellent job showing how reality can look so very different from how something appears online. With an interesting cast of characters, layered backstories (trauma, grief, heartbreak, poverty, and more), and quick dialogue, I #lovedthisstory.
And now, a tour of my office:
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 09/01/2020
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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