Like Me – Hayley Phelan

Though beautiful, cunning, and privileged, nineteen-year-old Mickey finds herself with a stalled modeling career, an escalating drinking problem, few friends, and next to nothing in the bank. To numb her growing despair, she spends her days frantically refreshing her Instagram feed, obsessively tracking the movements of Insta-famous model Gemma Anton.

Mickey sees Gemma as a perfected version of herself. Gemma is living a seemingly perfect life: a skyrocketing career, a famous boyfriend, and adoring followers. It’s the life Mickey wants more than anything. Mickey studies every detail Gemma offers through the window of her phone, trying to absorb, mimic, become the object of her growing fascination.

When a chance encounter thrusts Mickey into a world of opportunity, she is met with surprising—and immediate—success. But as her online persona begins to take over, the line between reality and illusion disappears. Then suddenly, so does Gemma.

Engrossing, sharp, and astute, Like Me is a shimmering portrait of infatuation, disconnection, and identity—and a dazzling introduction to a brilliant new voice in contemporary literature.

Book Info: Print length: 271 pages. Publisher: Lake Union Publishing. Publication Date: 1 March 2022

Hayley Phelan is a novelist and journalist from Toronto. Her column in the New York Times, Browsing, ran for two years in the paper’s Style section, where she continues to contribute. Her journalism, which predominantly focuses on media and how it shapes youth culture, particularly young women, has appeared in Elle, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, The Cut, and the Wall Street Journal. Her book criticism has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and, as a humorist, her work has been published online at the New Yorker. She formerly worked as features editor at Condé Nast’s Lucky Magazine, and as online editor of Teen Vogue. She received her MFA from NYU in January 2020. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

My Review:

If, like me, you love unreliable narrators, characters who are set to self-destruct, disturbing situations, gratuitous violence and an underlying feeling of dread and discomfort then you will probably enjoy this book.

There is no way to sugar coat this book though, so if you are of a sensitive nature it might be one to avoid as it contains rape, sexual abuse, substance abuse and mental health issues.

Mickey Jones is our unreliable narrator. A 19 year old wannabe model and influencer who spends her time drinking herself to oblivion and sleeping with different men in order to get into bars and clubs. She is OBSESSED with Gemma Anton – the most influential and successful model on Instagram. Mickey spends every waking moment scrolling through Gemma’s page, memorising her clothes, her expressions, her content and is determined to meet her idol and emulate her fame.

When a chance encounter with Gemma and her famous photographer boyfriend gives Mickey the opportunity to get a taste of fame she jumps at the chance and that is when everything takes a rather bitter and uncomfortable turn.

I’m not going to say too much, but this really does look at the toxic side of social media. Watching the public breakdown/meltdown of “influencers” and showing that reality is often very different to what they are portraying through their posts and uploaded photos.

Often uncomfortable and disturbing Like Me looks at how far someone will go to get public affirmation and adoration.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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