She's Faking It
She’s Faking it is one of those novels that has a great idea and an interesting, timely concept, which is complicated and sometimes blighted by the heroine through which the story is told.
Bree Botzman has been stumbling through life without an ambition or clue. When in college, she hoped for a bright future; now she works for GrubGetter, a food delivery company, and is not particularly good at her job – she has to supplement her lifestyle by taking paid surveys online. She also lives in a severely cluttered studio apartment which she may or may not be illegally subletting, all in reaction to the sudden death of her mother. She has no clue as to her plans for the future, and she envies her together, collected and seemingly driven friends and relatives. When she awkwardly meets the handsome Trey Cantu, a hunky surfer who happens to live next door, she’s drawn to him but still manages to turn into a jellyfish in his presence.
Under pressure from her type-A organizer sister to get off her butt already, Bree is presented with the work of Demi DePalma, a hardass lifestyle coach and guru. Following Demi’s Aspirational Action Plan and hoping to #EVOLVE, Bree starts an Instagram account – breebythesea, which chronicles a glamorized version of life in her enclave of San Diego. Though there are many awkward mishaps which occur which prove that being an influencer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, she quickly becomes a microendorser.
After tagging a wine company in her latest post, Bree is shocked when she wakes next morning to find she’s accrued thousands of followers. Then the account is praised and followed by Demi, which launches Bree’s social media career. Bree suddenly has money – and sycophants – by the score. Her best friend Mari, a YouTuber who generates her own following in an honest way, warns her that it’s a dead end game.
Bree finally seems to have everything she’s ever wanted – financial stability, the gorgeous Trey and even the respect of her sister. But when Trey’s past rebellions surface to haunt him – and Bree’s new-found success starts to slip through her fingers – what will she do?
I liked a lot of She’s Faking It, from the way it gives us a glimpse into influencer culture to the way it portrays the complex emotional reality of life of children left behind to mourn their lost parents. Bree’s relationship with Natasha is the most interesting in the book, fraught with bitterness, love, and the complexity of the need for self-actualization.
In a world where everyone is imperfect and no one is social media ready, Bree manages to be a disaster who lurches from place to place and high to low without seeming to learn enough. Yet she does make personal progress, she does figure out how to accept her flaws and begin a more mature life. It just takes oh, so long for her to figure out how to stop taking shortcuts, making her seem less quirky and relatable and more foolish.
Trey – though he’s given some flaws – mainly comes off as a perfect surfing prince for Bree to win. He’s a nice enough but not interesting – funny but not fascinating.
Sometimes the book reaches for quirky-cute hipster lingo and it fails to really make it pop. At one point Bree literally squees aloud (yes, she actually says “squee”) at something Trey has done, making me wince, and this isn’t funny or cute no matter what the author would have you believe.
On the other hand, I liked exasperated, honest Mari, and I really enjoyed Natasha, who has given up too much, dealt with too much and is now stuck being a mother to her sister along with trying to make her dream come true and care for her children.
But in the end, She’s Faking It’s good points are mitigated by its frustrating ones, making it a sadly average read.