Charlotte Duckworth’s Unfollow Me was originally published in the UK in the summer of 2019. It’s a book I heard lots of positive things about, so I was pleased to learn it would be coming out in the US this spring.
Violet Young is the kind of woman all suburban moms long to be. Her children are always well-put together, her house is immaculate, and Violet herself seems to always look as though she’s stepped straight out of a magazine. It’s no wonder her blog and her YouTube channel have become overnight sensations. Women around the world flock to Violet’s videos. She inspires them to be the wives and mothers they know they can be, and she makes it all look so easy!
But one day, Violet disappears from the internet. Her social media profiles have all been deleted, and her blog and Youtube channel no longer seem to exist. Some people suspect this is just a bid for attention, a kind of publicity stunt, but some of Violet’s most devoted fans aren’t so sure. Two women in particular have a lot of questions about her apparent disappearance, questions they’ll go to surprising lengths to answer.
Lily is a single mom doing her best to make ends meet. Her life doesn’t look anything like she thought it would, but she’s determined to make the best of her circumstances. After all, bloggers like Violet seem to have it all, so it can’t be impossible, right?
Yvonne, a successful photographer, wants nothing more than to be a mother. She and her husband are currently undergoing fertility treatments, and the strain is definitely taking a toll on their relationship. Sometimes, Yvonne wonders if motherhood is really on the cards for her, but whenever she starts to feel this way, she watches one of Violet’s videos and almost immediately feels better.
What happened to Violet, and why does she have such a hold on the hearts and minds of Yvonne, Lily, and countless other viewers? These are the questions at the center of Unfollow Me, and the answers will come as a bit of a surprise to most readers.
Violet herself is not an actual character in the novel, so we don’t see things directly from her point of view. Instead, we rely on Lily, Yvonne, and even Violet’s husband Henry to give us a glimpse into who she really is. As a result, I was unable to connect with Violet as anything more than an abstract concept, the catalyst for the story’s action rather than a living, breathing person. This distance from a person who feels integral to the plot may be difficult for some readers, but once I got used to the idea of Violet as more of a concept than a character, I was able to let go of any niggling uncertainties I had when I first started the book.
If you’re someone who needs to like the characters you’re reading about, this might not be the book for you. Henry, Lily, and Yvonne were each difficult for me to warm up to in their own ways. Of course, their very unlikeability is part of what drives the story forward, and I doubt the plot would have been even half as compelling if the author had chosen to create more level-headed, less messy protagonists. Still, difficult characters can be a deal-breaker for some readers, so I thought it worth mentioning here.
Social media is a huge part of many of our lives these days, and I loved the way Ms. Duckworth chose to weave it into her story. It made me stop and think about the parts of my life I share online, and I have to admit to being just a little more cautious now about what I post than I was before reading this book.
This isn’t a super twisty story. There are a few surprises toward the novel’s end, but the book’s magic doesn’t come from its big reveals. Instead, I found the journeys of the individual characters to be the best and brightest aspect of Unfollow Me. It won’t cause you to gasp aloud, but it is very likely to stay with you long after you reach the final page.