With countless young people around the world broadcasting their personal lives each day in hopes of acquiring internet fame, and countless others pursuing fame as a profession, this story couldn’t be more relevant or rousing. A thoughtful yet provocative portrayal of celebrity culture, social media influencers, and what it takes to become ‘internet-famous’, Alessandra Torre’s latest novel is simply unputdownable. Part tell-all memoir, part exposé, part slow-burning romance between two celebrity nemeses, this is the story of one young woman’s rise from shy, insecure wallflower to overnight internet sensation with millions of followers tracking her every step. But it is also so much more than that. It’s an unflinching and honest reflection on life as a modern-day internet celebrity, showing real insight into the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the fake of living life in the public spotlight. Torre dazzles with her writing style, her writing taut and crisp as always, and at a time when I can’t even read a recipe without my mind drifting off half way through, I devoured this book in a single sitting, smiling cover to cover.
For the first time ever, I had options. Every option. I could disappear. I could reinvent myself. I could have the life, any life, that I wanted.
For Emma Blanton it all began with a fortuitous lottery ticket that changed the course of her young life forever. After a childhood spent wishing she could be someone different, someone interesting and worthy of the attention she never got from her parents, she uses her new fortune to reinvent herself and become the girl everyone wants to be. For the next two years, and with a whole team of people paid to help her amass more and more online followers, Emma works tirelessly to become ‘famous’. And because no publicity is bad publicity, nothing gives Emma’s fame a boost like her many displays of animosity towards Cash Mitchell, the golden boy of social media and her greatest nemesis.
Some women were made to be loved. I was made to be hated.
Son of a famous TV star, Cash Mitchell has spent his entire life in the public eye, but has never shied away from trying to make a name for himself in the entertainment business. Adored by the press and sponsors alike, and with eighty million people following him on social media, Cash Mitchell seems to have only one thorn in his side—Emma Blanton. But no matter how much he wants to hate her, he’s never been able to forget another version of her, from years before, when a timid young girl stole his heart at a college party.
This wasn’t another girl from the Valley. This was her. Sharpest tongue in Hollywood, most intoxicating smile in California and a gaff through my heart since 2016.
So when a popular television network decides to put six internet celebrities under one roof and film their every interaction over two months, it doesn’t take long for Emma and Cash to join the cast, their antagonism providing perfect fodder for a scripted reality show. But for two people who have convinced the whole world that they hate one another, convincing themselves not to fall in love off-camera proves to be easier said than done.
“Don’t worry,” he whispered against my hair. “I won’t tell anyone.”
“Tell them what?”
“That your icy exterior melts.”
While to me this is a love story first and foremost, every scene designed to bring us closer and closer to a genuine, deeply affecting emotional moment between the leads, where this novel truly shines is in its characterisation and in its unadorned depiction of internet fame. Emma’s brittle layers are gently unpeeled to reveal a woman who, while her life continues to look perfect through the lens of a camera, is a lot more insecure than she appears, yearning for affection above all else. The author does a stellar job at breaking down the very process of the construction of a celebrity persona, and it is in that very process that we come to recognise what is real and what is constructed in the media. So subtle yet so emotionally layered, this book is Alessandra Torre at her best.
Years ago, I craved the approval and attention. Now, as my fame grew and my unhappiness lingered, I was beginning to understand it would never be enough—for them or me. It was like pouring water into a cup riddled with holes.