Desert Isle Keeper
The Bright Side of Going Dark
If you love light-hearted women’s fiction with a deeper underlying message, Kelly Harms’ latest novel is the perfect book for you. The Bright Side of Going Dark is the story of two troubled women, each attempting to do what she considers the right thing in a complex and often unforgiving world. It’s a book that will make you tear up in places, but it will make you smile quite a bit as well.
If you ask Mia Bell, she’d tell you her life is as close to perfect as anyone can get. With half a million followers, she’s one of the most popular influencers on social media, and she absolutely loves sharing her life with each and every one of them. She offers online yoga classes, reviews health and beauty products, and takes tons of pictures of every aspect of her life. On the outside, she has it all, but inside, she feels pretty bleak. You see, was jilted three days before her very public wedding, her beloved dog and devoted sidekick Mike has died of cancer, and her relationship with her mother has been strained for years. The world waits with bated breath for her next post, but Mia herself feels she has nowhere to turn in her time of sorrow.
Paige Miller is a tech-savvy single woman in her thirties, who happens to work for the social media platform Mia uses. When Paige’s younger sister Jessica posts a cry for help on Mia’s profile and attempts suicide, there’s a part of Paige that blames Mia for Jessica’s problems. When Mia’s profile goes dark, Paige hacks into the account and begins posting things on Mia’s behalf. She knows it’s wrong, but she’s afraid Jessica won’t be able to handle Mia’s online absence, and she’s desperate to offer her a kind of light in her emotional darkness. As you might imagine, what starts as a way to reach out to the sister she hasn’t been close to since childhood soon spirals out of control, leaving Paige, Jessica, and Mia in an incredibly awkward situation.
Are you wondering why Mia suddenly abandoned her social media and had no idea Paige was impersonating her online? Well, the answer is very simple: she literally threw her phone over the edge of a cliff in an attempt to reconnect with the things that really matter. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, and there are times she regrets her actions, but as the days pass, Mia finds life out of the social spotlight to be quite refreshing. She slowly begins to mend her relationship with her mother and even starts spending time with an attractive single father who lives down the road.
Kelly Harms’ writing is chock full of heart, but not in a way that feels cheesy or fake. In fact, parts of the novel resonated quite deeply with me, a person who interacts with the world from my computer most of the time. She does a great job portraying both the perks and the pitfalls of social media without preaching to the reader.
Mia and Paige aren’t always easy to like, but even when I questioned their decisions, I was never pulled out of the story. Everything they do makes perfect sense, given the situations in which they find themselves. Paige is incredibly awkward in her dealings with the world, and I cringed on her behalf more than once, and Mia seems self-centered at times, but her inner vulnerabilities are plain to see.
If you enjoy stories that demand quite a bit from both the characters and the reader, please give The Bright Side of Going Dark a try. It was a perfect book for this point in my life, offering me everything I didn’t know I needed. I read it in a single evening, and I plan on picking up Ms. Harms’ previous novels as soon as I can.