Book Title and Author: Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
Publication date and Publisher: July 11, 2017 by Simon Schuster
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick-Lit, Contemporary
Pages: 256 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: June 27, 2017
From Laura Dave—the author of the “addictive” (Us Weekly), “winning” (Publishers Weekly) and critically acclaimed bestseller Eight Hundred Grapes—comes a new novel about the secrets we keep…even from ourselves. Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.
Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor. And then she gets hacked. When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life. In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age.
I was drawn to Hello, Sunshine because of the summery, citrusy, juicy cover that wouldn’t stop calling my name! I admit that I didn’t read the blurb of the book before I requested to read it nor had I ever read anything by Laura Dave. I just knew that a book that looked this sunny and refreshing would deliver (even if the old saying is to never judge a book by its cover)! Let’s just say that this time, I was completely right about the cover speaking for itself! What gem of a book! But what I thought would be a light, easy, breezy beach read is surprisingly more than that although it is definitely a book I highly recommend packing in your beach bag for a day! You will not be disappointed by this quick, yet unpredictable, surprising read!
Let me introduce you to Sunshine “Sunny” Mackenzie: she’s a cooking star with a YouTube cooking show, millions of Twitter and Facebook followers, several #1 bestselling cookbooks, a deal with the Food Network for a cooking show, a gorgeous husband, and an amazing NYC apartment. Basically, she has everything she ever dreamed of and more!
Yet, in the very first chapter, everything in Sunny’s life begins to unravel when someone hacks her Twitter account and exposes her deepest, darkest secrets. On her thirty-fifth birthday, her life crashes down around her and she loses everything. But you just cannot help feel sorry for her even though you have to question many of the choices she made along the way to her celebrity status that led to her devastating losses.
However, in these circumstances, Sunny proves she is a strong, independent woman. She is like a phoenix rising from the ashes as she completely starts her life over from scratch by returning to her home, a place she vowed she would never return. It’s her return to her roots that shows Sunny how the life she’d been living was not only fake but had turned her into someone who was inauthentic and only cared about appearances for the sake of her social media status.
I so love how Dave takes us along on Sunny’s journey to rediscovering her true self and the road to happiness! It was also great to see Sunny interact and reconnect with her estranged sister Rain, her adorable, super-smart niece Sammy, and many other characters she meets along the way–some likable and others not so much! Also, being a bit of a foodie, I really enjoyed all the food talk and references to meals in the book! There were times when I was reading that I would get so hungry I’d have to grab a snack!!
My only complaints with the book were the ending and the reason why the hacker exposed Sunny as a fraud. The ending was abrupt and could have been fleshed out more even if by adding an epilogue so the reader could know how things had ended a little bit more for Sunny, and I had to reach a bit to understand the hacker’s reasonings for why and what they did. Still, neither of those things took anything away from the pure enjoyment of the book in my opinion, but it did cause the book from receiving a 5-star rating from me. All in all, it was just such a joy to watch Sunny awaken to the person she really was and stop hiding from herself that made me really love the book!
This is a witty, funny, well-written read that is also very deep at times. The topic of how social media consumes us and what many of us do to make a good appearance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc is a very relevant one in today’s age for Dave to explore. While we may not curate our lives like Sunny did to maintain her celebrity status, most of us try to portray our very best selves on social media….the most flattering pictures on Facebook or Instagram even if it must be taken 20 times to be “perfect” or just enough information given in a Facebook post to keep up with or upstage a family or a friend. I know that as soon as this review is written and posted it will be linked to Goodreads, Google Plus, and Twitter, so I know social media is an integral part of my blogging and reviewing. And I want my review to reflect the best parts of me. So when does social media become too much a part of our everyday lives or invite us to become people other than who we really are? That really is what Dave is asking the reader in Hello, Sunshine and why it is so surprisingly a deeper read than what I expected. I definitely recommend this book as the perfect summer read, and I know that I will be reading more of Dave’s books in the future!
***Thank you Edelweiss, Simon Schuster, and Laura Dave for allowing me to read an ARC copy of Hello, Sunshine in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. ***