Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave | leahdecesare.comI wrote this review for bookreporter.com – an incredible hub of book news and reviews and contests … check them out! I was given this book by the publisher to review.

HELLO, SUNSHINE is out today, July, 11. Happy Release Day, Laura!

Not only do I love the cover of HELLO, SUNSHINE, but the inside delivers. Laura Dave’s new release, HELLO, SUNSHINE spotlights something that I’ve had on my mind for years: authenticity and integrity in a hyper-connected, online world. It ponders the questions around how social media affects its users and the discord between what is posted and what is real.

Sunshine Mackenzie, who begins her life of lies with changing her name to Sunshine Mackenzie, is a man-made celebrity foodie blogger. Her success is constructed by her producer and others around her and begins with a fabricated story, a story which leads to more and more untruths and pulls her away from the honesty she’d always lived and valued. Only three people in the world know about many of the falsehoods her brand is built on so when she is hacked, a bit of a mystery begins. Who is hacking into her Twitter account? Whoever it is knows the truth and tweets out facts that shatter her life. No matter how her team scrambles to do damage control, the hacker is one step ahead with another truth to reveal until Sunshine loses her career, her husband and her home.

The pull between authenticity and image, true and false, is compelling and well done. HELLO, SUNSHINE examines a culture that values celebrity over reality, image over substance, and posting over living. We live at a time where reality TV is entirely unreal and society recognizes and accepts that. Have we become fine with falsehoods? Comfortable with institutionalized dishonesty? How often are people posting a picture of a memory they haven’t even truly lived or enjoyed?

The very theme and hook of this story opens and encourages the reader to self-appraisal. It’s a timely and relevant commentary on modern day life guided by social media and online status.

In comparing life as it was pre-Twitter-Facebook-Instagram, Dave expertly spotlights the stark differences that surface. If you don’t play the social media game, can you be a star? If you don’t participate, others will create your image for you in their posts. Can you be a success today without actively managing your brand, your image, your story online for all to see? Is lying the only way to keep a private life? With the consideration of the blurred lines between public and private, Dave introduces the idea that society may be missing out on the gift of people’s best works – creative or otherwise – because of the impingement of having our lives on display, especially public figures of any kind.

I relish a story that makes me think and question and nod along. HELLO, SUNSHINE propels us to dig in, challenge, and ask questions even as the author dissects and evaluates many for us.

Dave’s flawed characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional. They’re gritty and real. They help Sunshine learn as she struggles to rediscover and return to her own authentic self. Her sister, her niece, Chef Z and fisherman-friend, Ethan, all serve to hold a mirror to Sunshine and her priorities. In Sunshine, we meet an initially unlikeable woman who we like anyway and root for throughout the story. As a writer, I loved the the messy lives of the characters. Their realism and our ability to relate to them underscore the story’s message which gives the reader a satisfying ending without having everything tied up pretty and neat with an artificial bow.

Add HELLO, SUNSHINE to your reading list this summer for a compelling, quick read that will make you chuckle and ponder and pass the book along.